“If you have… any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” -Philippians 2:1-2
Sometimes I might sound harsh. I have been. Sometimes it seems that harshness is pervasive. Sometimes it seems unremarkable–necessary. But Paul and Timothy woke me up this morning.
Who would think that in Philippians, that uncompromising epistle that includes statements like “to live is Christ and to die is gain” and “whatever was to my profit I now consider loss,” the hardest thing for me to do would be sharing something? And sharing serious things, like a mind, a love, a spirit, and a purpose? And because of tenderness and compassion?
Really, it’s completely in line with what the rest of the letter describes.
In Philippians, tenderness and compassion (and encouragement and comfort and fellowship) are influential. These are the things, as gifts of the Spirit, through which the authors give up anything.
Once, at the end of a year of conference planning, I heard someone mention compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is the indifference, the harshness, that can hit you when you see too many terrible things without any encouragement. It can relate to a single issue you’ve focused on, or to life as a whole. It can make the work you were once ready to die for mean nothing to you.
Since bad things make good news, and since news is so accessible, I think more people on this planet are closer to compassion fatigue than ever before–including Christians.
The only way we can be united is if we keep our compassion healthy. The only way to keep our compassion healthy is to spend more time focused on our source of encouragement than the source of our problems. As the church, both for our health, and our productivity, we have to focus more than ever before on Jesus, his grace, and what the Holy Spirit is doing.
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1:2