Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Not all emotions are created equal.
Having more compassion trumps having less confidence. Perhaps a lot of compassion makes up for a lack of bravery, or somehow when we’re moved by compassion, we gain confidence. Either way, we find enough confidence to do the brave thing because compassion drives us that way.
Today, we’re seeing this played out in thousands of stories emerging from Ukraine. We see compassion galvanising people to protect and provide for loved ones – when there are many practical reasons to lack confidence, even if it means placing themselves in danger.
Jesus endured the cross ‘for the joy set before him’. There are several options as to what this phrase in Hebrews 12 might mean, but they all sound like compassion at work to me!
Jesus may have been seeing ahead to the joy of his Father’s delight in him at the completion of his saving sacrifice. If so, the love and compassion between the Father and Son wins through beyond the suffering that he will endure.
Some suggest for the joy could be translated in exchange for the joy. In which case, Jesus chose to forgo the joy that was eternally his to lower himself, to come to earth on his saving mission. Why would he do this? Because of his love and compassion.
The most humbling option, though, is that the joy set before Jesus is you. His joy is in you. His compassion for you, and me, and all those he would save, drove him forward to endure the cross.
There’s a church close to where I now live that has installed a cross outside their community centre which conveys this beautifully. The cross has arms outstretched and curved round – offering an embrace or a hug. Picturing this work of art helps me to fix my eyes on Jesus and consider him. It helps me to picture the compassion of our saviour.
The more we fix our eyes on Jesus, a phrase which implies choosing to focus on Jesus when other things might distract, the more our love for him and our compassion for others grows.
Whenever we can allow our love and compassion for others to grow – when we listen to the news, when we see a friend in crisis, when we see a colleague getting stressed – it trumps a lack of confidence.
To put it another way, I find enough confidence to do the right thing because compassion compels me to do so.
Director of Church Relationships, LICC
Where can you practice compassion your frontlines this week? Join the conversation in the comments below.