We can only be truly compassionate when we are humble

We need eyes to see what God sees.

1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, loving as brothers, and be compassionate and humble…

As Peter is summarizing his exhortations for the congregations he is writing to, he echoes a theme which is represented in the prophet Micah.

Micah 6:8 – People, he has told each of you what is good and what it is Yahweh requires of you: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

This is such a powerful admonition that even today, a local congregation near where I live has adopted this verse as their mission statement represented simply in their name: “6:8.”

This same simple principle is stated by Yeshua when he was asked what the greatest commandment is.

Matthew 22:37-40 – He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. “This is the greatest and most important command. “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

The entirety of God’s torah, his instruction, rests within the simplicity of these statements. What is captured in the writings of Micah and Peter, and more subtly in the statement of Yeshua, is a key element that makes this all-encompassing directive possible: humility.

When we can operate in true humility, we are freed to accomplish the purpose of God with others. When we remove our typical focus on ourselves, we can become his hands to reach out in love to others. This is how true compassion is manifested.

Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

In our vain and vacuous culture today, we are so accustomed to looking out for ourselves that this central biblical concept seems almost foreign. We are so focused on trying to gain prestige, honor, self-improvement, visibility, followers, and influence that we have no time or energy left for God and the purpose of his kingdom.

Expanding on the exhortation of Micah, Alexander MacLaren comments:

Some people would say that this summary of the divine requirements is defective, because there is nothing in it about a man’s duty to himself, which is as much a duty as his duty to his fellows, or his duty to God. But there is a good deal of my duty to myself crowded into that one word, ‘humbly.’ For I suppose we might almost say that the basis of all our obligations to our own selves lies in this, that we shall take the right view-that is, the lowly view-of ourselves.

Peter would agree as he encourages the believers to do that very thing.

1 Peter 5:5 – … All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

If we are not hearing from God and wondering why he appears to be absent from our individual lives and our current society, it is likely because he is resisting us. The passage Peter is alluding to here is from Proverbs 3:34, which says, “He scorns the scornful but gives grace to the humble.” God is scorning us due to our collective and individual pride. Our pride is in the way, distancing us from him.

God desires us to exercise his compassion to others but this can only come about when we become humble, or in biblical phraseology: lowly of mind. When we think less frequently about ourselves and more about the needs of others, we demonstrate our likeness to our Father who is compassionate and merciful with us.

Psalm 103:13 – As a father has compassion on his children, so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him.

Humility sheds the scales from our eyes and allows us to see clearly the needs of those around us. The world that God would have us reach for him comes into view and yearns for our help. Only through humility can we truly exhibit God’s love to others, and in so doing, bring glory to his Name and reputation.

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