Clothe yourself with compassion this holiday season

“Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, Christmas trees and nativity scenes … it’s all a charade. The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path,” Pope Francis said in a recent sermon. (Source)

He said this during festivities as the Vatican unveiled its giant Christmas tree.

Around here, that’s what we would call a “fun sucker”, folks. Sucking the fun right out of the room.

The Christmas season starts officially this week. Everywhere you look, people will be talking and singing of peace, love, joy, and Christ’s love. Pope Francis got me thinking.

Is it all fake? Are we just going through the motions, because that is what we do during the holiday season…we speak of peace and love but don’t really show it in real life?

The answer is not simple.

Pope Francis is right. Yes, there is a lot of scary, hate-filled things going on in this world right now. People who have embraced evil and are hell-bend on exercising their terror on us. Christians’ religious freedom is threaten, beheaded by extremists. It’s not just Christians on the other side of the world, Muslims are attacked, too.

There is a mass exodus from Syria. Some are just looking to escape the evil going on in their country, others are mixed in looking to do harm to the world. Young girls are being raped and/or forced into marriage as a child bride. Girls are kidnapped from their homes, sold as sex slaves, having no value. Remember them?

Here in the U.S., criminals gun down our Police Officers, those pledged to protect and serve. Kids are shooting kids, in school! We hurl hateful words at those who think and feel differently than us; causing even a greater divide between us. A 9-year-old boy was executed in the street because his father belonged to a rival gang. The world is a scary place.

I wish I as more like Him, because loving people right now can be really hard.

Pope Francis is wrong. Just like there has always been evil and wrong doing in the world, since the beginning of time, there has always been humans doing good. We are a more compassionate people than any generation before us.

Even as I typed that last sentence I don’t fully (although I want to) believe it, and Google couldn’t offer me any real stats either. You let me down, Google.

I will offer this instead: Compassion is in our DNA. (Scientific support for that statement.) Also, we are created in a compassionate God’s image. He created us to be compassionate!

So, if we are hard-wired for compassion…then why don’t we live in a compassionate world? Because we cannot just speak of compassion, we must live it. Too much talk, not enough action.

Compassion “is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.” For instance, it’s the feeling you get in your gut when you see that PSA of abused animals in cages. Cue Sarah McLaclan’s song, “Angel”.

Of course, it’s one thing to cry when seeing images of abused animals, starving kids, murdered unborn babies; it’s another to stand up and say, “No more!”, then do something about it.

Simply feeling compassionate doesn’t change the world. Doing something when we feel compassion is the only thing that will.

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It’s not enough to feel compassion, we must practice it, live it…be more compassionate to those we don’t feel deserve our compassion. That last part is hard, isn’t it?

Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

And just how do we clothe ourselves in compassion? Simple. A more compassionate world starts with you and me.

Here are 4 simple ways to clothe yourself with compassion this holiday season:

  1. Practice random acts of kindness. Go out of your way to be kind to someone. Shovel your neighbor’s snowy sidewalk, share your lunch, babysit for a tired mamma, don’t walk by that bell ringer with the red bucket without dropping in a few bucks. 
  2. Be slow to speak, quick to listen. Most people don’t want you to fix their problem. They want you to really listen. Remember, there is a difference between hearing and listening. 
  3. Be an advocate. Be a voice for the voiceless. That could be in the form of volunteering, monetary donation, or writing about a cause that God has laid on your heart.
  4. Get creative. Don’t ignore that creative idea of compassion that pops in your head. That’s just God showing you a path to someone in need. Sometimes creativity is just what is needed to meet a need.

I can’t stop the war in Syria. I don’t have the answers to fighting ISIS. I can’t fix the racial divide in this country. But, compassion I can do. It starts with me. It may not be the answer to world peace, but it will bring peace to my world.

Every small act of compassion starts as a small seed, growing into something bigger. Be a Small Seed, growing in faith and compassion.

***Linking Up with Holley Gerth’s Coffee for your Heart. Go, check out the inspiring bloggers over there.

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