Compassion should be an easy topic to discuss. Elder Soares talk focuses on the Savior’s abiding compassion. How can we be like the Savior when it comes to compassion?
Compassion is a mindset
We read about the story in the picture above in Luke 7:36-50. From the story, we can see how Jesus’s mindset completely differs from Simon the Pharisee’s. Jesus looked upon the woman as a child of God, trying her best and coming to Him for help. Simon viewed the woman as dirty and not worthy of his time because she was a sinner. Jesus did not judge the woman, while Simon did.
For each of us, compassion should be a mindset. It should be our first thought that will lead us to an act of compassion. This is not easy. I know that at times I have done exactly what Simon the Pharisee did. I have judged people based on what I perceive to be their circumstances. Over the years, I have tried to change this so that when someone does something I don’t like or agree with, my thoughts go to understanding the person instead of judging them.
What is Compassion?
Compassion is defined as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering” (Dictionary.com). Different from the definition, Christ didn’t have a “strong desire to alleviate the suffering”, rather, he took what action he could to alleviate the suffering.
Here again, is a difference between ourselves and Christ. Christ takes action. There are times where we could but do not. How many times have a seen something happen to someone only to be like the Priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan and “pass by on the other side”. Compassion, therefore, is the mindset and the action to help others in need.
We need to catch ourselves when our thoughts are not compassionate. I remember a time when I met someone new at work. From the moment I saw him, I thought to myself that here was someone who was arrogant and thought he knew everything. This happened before I even knew his name! As soon as the thought went through my mind, I caught myself and said, “What am I thinking?” This man has done nothing to me, and I don’t even know him yet. Why do I have these thoughts? Once I stopped myself, I reevaluated my position. I forced myself to look at the man with a blank canvas in my mind. I allowed him to paint the picture I would see. It turns out that he and I worked well together and we accomplished a lot of things over the short span of eighteen months.
That experience taught me that I needed to change the way I saw others. I need to see people as children of God. I would be lying if I said that I have perfected this process, but I have come a long way from where I was. I still have to catch myself at times and remember who this person really is and understand them before making any kind of judgment.
Making Compassion Automatic
What can we do to make compassion, something automatic in our lives? Here are some ideas that have helped me draw closer to this goal:
- Recognize when our thoughts are not compassionate (catch ourselves)
- Work on looking and seeing others as God does
- Learn how to be slow to:
- Be aware of our surroundings to better understand and love our neighbors
My parents are a great example of compassion. Growing up they were always willing to help others in need. This included taking them into our home and sharing what we had with them. There were individuals and families who spent time in our house and never once did my parents complain or say anything critical about them. All they did was show love and share what they had in order to help.
As I said in the beginning, compassion should be an easy topic to discuss. However, in practice, it is much harder. Working on having a compassionate mindset and taking action when we see someone in need is a goal I strive to achieve every day. What about you? How do you cultivate a mindset of compassion? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.