Today’s MOG virtue is compassion. It means to be thoughtful of others and to feel for them. In John 8: 1-11, a woman is brought before Jesus. Some of the people want her to be stoned for adultery, but Jesus says, “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone.” No one throws a stone, and Jesus forgives the woman, telling her not to sin anymore. He knew she had messed up, but he showed that he understood her and cared about her. She didn’t need to be stoned; she needed compassion. The people didn’t need to stone her; they needed to show compassion.
In the spring of my senior year in high school, I was going through a stressful time. I hadn’t heard back from most of the colleges, but I was watching all my friends get accepted to the schools they wanted to go to. So, I started distancing myself from them, and I got kind of snippy. One day, a buddy of mine asked, “How are you?”
I said, “I’m fine.”
Then he said, “No really, how are you? Cause you’ve been acting a little off recently and I want to make sure you’re alright.”
I realized I’d been taking out my anxieties on people I cared about, so we talked about it. He didn’t have to be so understanding, but it’s what I needed. Imagine if he had carelessly said, “Hey you’ve been acting like a jerk.” He might have been right, but it wouldn’t have helped.
Our society pressures men to be independent. Men aren’t supposed to need anyone, and if we see something wrong with someone else, we’re supposed to call them out with tough love because feelings are for the weak. But that attitude isn’t how healthy relationships are built. Instead, we should check in with each other and be honest without getting angry or defensive. Compassion doesn’t blame or shame people.
In Galatians 6:1-2, Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
We all make mistakes. And God calls us to restore each other gently, to carry each other’s burdens. We show each other compassion. We listen to each other. This is the way God’s Spirit calls us to act.
- Have you ever seen someone behave with compassion? What stories can you think of?
- Think of someone who often causes you frustration. In what ways could you seek to understand them more or care for them better?
- What are the challenges you face when receiving or giving criticism? How might having compassion change the way you talk to someone when you have an issue with them?
Challenge: If you can, in your mind, name one person you’ve had a problem with recently and to whom you have not shown compassion. Say a prayer for them. Ask God to guide you in understanding them better. Before confronting them with criticism, consider letting them know how much you care about them — write a letter, a text, give them a compliment.