************ Sermon on Colossians 3:12 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on July 8, 2013

Colossians 3:1-17
"The Christian's Uniform - Compassion"
TASC # 2

"You have [died and] been raised with Christ ... Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion ..." (Col 3:1,12).

A boy in Carlsbad, CA was diagnosed with a brain tumor, received radiation, and lost all of his hair. He was embarrassed to return to school. Fifteen of his classmates went to the barber shop and shaved their heads. Do you know what those students displayed? They displayed compassion.

Tonight we are talking about compassion. Clothe yourselves with compassion. Make compassion part of your wardrobe. Every morning put on compassion in the same way as you put on a shirt or a pants. And, don't forget the reason: because you have died and been raised with Christ.

I What is Compassion
A Compassion is what we feel when we see tragedy and suffering and pain. Compassion is what we feel when we heard about the 19 firefighters who died last week Sunday in Arizona. Compassion is what we feel when we heard about the plane from China that crashed in San Francisco, injuring dozens and killing two teens. Compassion is what we feel when we watch or read the terrible things in the news. Compassion is what we feel when a church member gets diagnosed with cancer. Compassion is what we feel when there is a death in our church family.

In the Bible, compassion is so big. In the Hebrew Bible the word for compassion has the same root as the word for womb. Compassion is what a mother feels for the fruit of her womb. It is a motherly act. Attack or hurt her child and she instinctively defends and protects.

So, what is compassion? Compassion is defined by Paul in Romans:
(Rom 12:15) Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Compassion is a kind of empathy we feel for the suffering of another person. We actually feel their hurt and their pain.

B Do you know what a Narcissist is? A Narcissist is someone in love with themselves, and only themselves. A Narcissist is unable to show compassion. He cannot rejoice with those who rejoice; he cannot mourn with those who mourn. He wants to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral because he cannot stand that he is not the center of attention. For a Narcissist it is all about me.

The wife of a Narcissist had a cancer scare. He said not a word about her fears, her cancer, her tears. All he talked about was his trip. No prayers, no love, no concern, no compassion – for his own wife.

Why? Narcissists are not able to show kindness to others.

They aren't the only ones. Studies have shown that those who play violent video games or watch too many violent movies are also unable to show kindness and compassion. What they have been doing has hardened and coarsened their heart to another's pain and suffering.

Since you have died and been raised with Christ, let anger, rage, and malice die. Let narcissism die. Get rid of violent movies and violent games. And clothe yourselves with compassion.

II The Need for Compassion
A We need compassion in today's world: tornadoes, bombings, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis. I skimmed the local news:
-a woman doused in a flammable substance and then lit on fire
-a grandmother and her grandson drowning in a pool not that far from my backyard
You feel compassion for everyone of the victims. What kind of sick world is this? How much our world needs a Savior. You want to weep and sorrow with people.

B You don't need to see a disaster to feel compassion. Maybe you know someone who fights depression. Maybe you know someone who is lonely. Maybe you know someone who keeps having bad things happen to them. Maybe it is someone here this week. And you feel compassion for them.

III Compassion in God and Christ
A I need to mention that Christians are not the only ones who feel compassion. Unbelievers and people of other religions feel this too. Do you know why? Because God has made man in His image. The Bible reveals God to us as a God of compassion:
(Ps 103:13-14) As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; (14) for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
The story of Jonah and Nineveh reveals to us that God even has compassion for animals. In a very real way, God feels our pain and our hurt. He remembers we are dust. He knows how frail and fragile life is. So, He has compassion on us. Because of Him, humans made in His image can often feel compassion for others even when they aren't believers.

Christians are not the only ones who feel compassion. However, Christians have more reason than others to show this emotion. We know it pleases God when we weep with those who weep. We know it pleases God when we image Him. We know it pleases God when we put to death our old selfish nature and clothe ourselves with the Christian's uniform.

B Compassion is what we see when we look at Christ. When Jesus saw the widow, the leper, the blind, the lame, He was moved with compassion. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

In His teaching, Jesus more than once highlighted those who showed compassion to others. Think of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Think of the father of the Prodigal Son.

Clothe yourselves with compassion. Weep with those who weep. And know that you are being like God and Christ.

IV How to Cultivate Compassion
A How do we clothe ourselves with compassion? It is God's gift in Christ and through the Spirit but it is also our calling. So, how do we cultivate compassion? How do we encourage compassion and the other virtues of kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience?

You are on the right track by being at TASC. Did you know that TASC is all about compassion? Our job-sites are all about showing compassion. We package food at Food-Link for the poor. Love INC is in the business of giving help in the name of Christ. We are painting the buildings of two churches who cannot afford the maintenance. We are helping a poor widow.

Don't let our building and the homes of our members fool you. Here, in Tulare County, we have one of the highest poverty rates that you will find anywhere in the United States. A recent article in the LA Times identifies Tulare County as California's welfare capital. Consider the following Tulare County statistics:
-33% of all our children are in poverty
-15% unemployment rate
-most of the outlying communities have unsafe drinking water
-49% of all the children born in Kaweah Delta Hospital are born to unwed mothers
By helping out in TASC you are showing compassion to and for these people.

B What else can you do? Go to funeral homes and hospitals when classmates suffer death or sickness. Embrace your classmate. Cry with them. You don't have to say anything other than, "I am praying for you." Or, "I am so sorry."

C Look for people who need compassion. At church or school keep your eye open for the teen who is all alone. Reach out to them. Befriend them. Sit with them. Show compassion. From the pulpit the last two Sundays I saw people who were hurting.

One of them was Christine Fukano. There is a note about her in our bulletin. This is the fourth time she has cancer. She starts to cry when she thinks of the compassion people show her. The visits, the prayers, the cards, the meals. You can do this too.

The other grabbed me yesterday morning and we went to my office. He talked and cried and we prayed together. It doesn't take a rocket scientist. You just need to look for people who need compassion.

D In your church or in your family are people who brim with compassion. These people read the newspaper and watch the TV and look at the church bulletin with compassion. Learn from them. Imitate them.

"You have [died and] been raised with Christ ... Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion ..." (Col 3:1,12).

Compassion fits people like you. Compassion is part of the uniform of the family of God.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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