Spiritual Practice


Jennifer Earl & Richard Lawton

We learn of hungry children, homeless families, modern day slavery, or the lack of clean water; and something stirs inside us. We’re moved emotionally: a lump in our throats or tear-filled eyes. We’re affected physically: a churning nausea or shock that leaves us cemented to our seats. Our hearts speed up. A crazy desire to take away the pain of people we’ve never met creates a dull ache in our chests.

That consuming feeling is compassion. Surprised? The word compassion sounds beautiful and suggests comfort, so it’s unexpected and a bit unsettling when the actual emotion creates discomfort. Compassion is the feeling of wanting to help. Being moved emotionally and physically inspires us to act.

When a need moves us, we are reflecting Jesus. When we respond with action, we are following Jesus.

—Jennifer Earl


When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36 (NRSV)

REFLECT ON LUKE 10:25–37: When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor,” the young man asked, “Who’s my neighbor?” Jesus responded by telling a story. He didn’t define neighbor. His story implied that we are the neighbors—to strangers, foreigners, and people we might disapprove of—when we act like neighbors, when we help them and stand by them, when we show them compassion, when we offer them the love of Christ. Whom are you feeling moved to love?

—Richard Lawton

—from devozine (May/June 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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