1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brothers, be pitiful, be courteous:…
We have got into a strange way of thinking about that word "compassion." It seems to imply a sense of superiority in the person who experiences the emotion for which it stands. We talk about sympathising with people in misfortune; but how do we set about it? I ant afraid the usual way is to go to some one in distress and say something like this: "You poor thing; I am so sorry for you." And then, if it is a kind of distress that appeals to our superior power for help, we give a little alms, or we do some little act of kindness before we go away, and dismiss the subject from our thoughts. But if it is grief that excites our sympathy, we too often make matters worse by offering consolations in which we do not half believe, such as saying it is all for the best, or time will wear it out. It is easy enough to say that other people's misfortunes are all for the best. But is it always true? Should we like to be told so in a case of our own? Everything that happens is for the best in the wise counsels of our Father in heaven. But it is for us to turn it to the best account. The true sympathy is to enter into the feeling one's self, and share it with the one to whom it properly belongs. And if we believe in the structure of Christ's body, of which we call ourselves members, we must know that what belongs to one belongs to all — "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it," etc. The sympathy suggested by St. Peter's word is a comprehensive feeling. It is not limited to any one kind of experience, such as grief or pain. It must diffuse itself throughout the whole capacity of loving hearts. Let it once but take possession of us all and see how all jangling discords will subside before its gentle touch. There will be no more room for envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness. Let us seek this precious stream of harmony at the fountainhead. Let the love of Christ constrain us to be of one heart and one soul. And now, as to the thoroughness of this sympathy, it must be a partaking of the results of every impression made upon each other. There is nothing truer than the common saying that habit is a sort of second nature, and we all know that we have it in our power to contract very much such habits as we wish. This fact is at the bottom of all our plans for bringing up our children, that is to say, if we try to bring them up after any sensible plan at all. Some of us are naturally more disposed to personal affection than others. And these take more kindly, as the saying is, to the exercise of a general sympathy with humanity at large. It is well for such persons if they do not rest satisfied with the emotion alone and pride themselves on being holier than their hard-hearted brethren. But the fact of being less disposed to feel for other people is no excuse for not trying to do it. We may cultivate it like any other habit, only far more effectually by the grace of God, till it almost seems natural to us to have compassion one of another. I remember urging this once upon a man, hard and unloving by nature, who had trouble in his family, and his answer struck me very forcibly. "I see," he said, "you want me to force sympathy in a hot bed." And that is just one of the ways in which it may be done, and as a tender plant it will repay the greatest care. But, perhaps, all this while, you have no very clear idea what I mean by sympathy. It seems to me that it is another way of expressing a very common idea — that of doing as you would be done by. It is the putting of one's self into the person of another — so far as it is possible or right to do so. That is to say, so far as it comes within our province as brethren, members of the same family of God — nay, more than that, of the same body of Christ — to care for each other's concerns. Think of it when your friends are cross and you are tempted to answer them back — think of it when they are tired and you would worry them into your activity, or when they are cheerful and eager for some enjoyment and you would depress them with your selfish cares. Think of it again when you are judging of other people's conduct under trials to which you have never been exposed, and when words of thoughtless censure or bitter scorn are welling to your lips.
(H. C. Atwool, M. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: