S216P3 – Psalms of promise: compassion breeds compassion

Psa. 41:1-2

Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.  The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.  The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.

Even attending a secular public school, we were taught from a young age to follow the golden rule.  It was a lesson I did not know came from scripture.  I only knew that it was what was expected of us in school so that we would grow to be good people.  Of course, there is something to consider here.  Those who follow this rule are hanging their hopes on a certain expectation.  That expectation is that they would be treated the same way by others.  The problem with this dynamic between people is that we cannot expect everyone else to follow this model of behavior.  We can treat others well, but that does not guarantee good treatment from them in return.

The good thing for those who follow the Lord is that their expectation of a return on their good treatment of others is not grounded in others.  Their expectation is that the Lord will reward them for this good behavior, and He certainly does that.  This is a matter of reaping that which we sow.  If we expect compassion from the Lord, we first must be compassionate toward others.  This might sound like more of a demand than a promise, but that is merely a matter of semantics.  The promise is that we are assured of being treated well when we treat others well, even if the recipients of our good graces mistreat us in return.  Their behavior toward us might be anything but gracious, but we still are assured to experience grace in return for grace.

The promise of God is that we will not be left empty-handed as a result of treating others well.  We will not give so much that we end up with nothing left to give.  He pours compassion on us as we pour it out on others.  The same goes for patience, kindness, mercy, love, and every other good thing we can share.  Our audience might not return the favor, but He will.  In fact, we only give what we receive from him first.  The focus should be not on pleasing others but on pleasing him.  We do all these things in obedience to him and to further his kingdom, and He gives us the good return for our work.  Father, help us to keep giving every good thing even when we receive nothing good in return because we know that You will do that for us.