“Courage and compassion are two sides of the same coin. Compassion without courage is not genuine. You may have a compassionate thought or impulse, but if you don’t do or say anything, it’s not real compassion.
— President Daisaku Ikeda
I agree with Ikeda. Compassion is meaningless if it isn’t acted on.
It isn’t enough to say we have compassion for the hungry and then do nothing. Our words have to be followed by action.
The basis of my first book, Getting Off Our Buts: Making Mission Happen is the only miracle account included in all 4 Gospels, the feeding of the 5,000. One of the most powerful verses in that passage tells that when Jesus saw the waiting crowds he was “moved with compassion, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, so He began to teach them many things.”
Jesus was so filled with compassion that He immediately acted on those feelings. That’s true compassion. Like Ikeda says, to be genuine, compassion requires action.
Ikeda writes that courage and compassion are two sides of the same coin. That’s a connection I had never made . Ending the suffering of our human family dying daily from the ravages of hunger requires compassion. According to Ikeda it also requires courage.
Do we have the courage to act on our compassion for the hungry? Do we have the courage required to end hunger in our lifetime?
One of the most beautiful and most powerful aspects of the Bible is that it never gets old. No matter how often I read or study a passage there is always something new that appears. The Bible is truly God’s “living word,” always waiting to reveal more truth.
One instance of this has just happened to me in the past couple of weeks. The passage with which I am probably most familiar is Mark 6:30-44, Mark’s account of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. I have read it hundreds of times, preached and taught it almost as many times, and even used it as the basis for my book, Getting Off Our Buts. I know that passage.
However, a couple weeks ago as I was skimming over that passage before a worship service at which I was to preach, a new word was shown to me. There in the middle of a passage with which I was so intimately familiar I “discovered” something powerfully new. In Mark 6:41 Jesus blesses the loaves and the fish and gives them to the twelve disciples to distribute to the crowd. What I had never seen before follows in Mark 6:42:
“And all ate and were satisfied.”
“All ate and were satisfied.” Matthew and Luke’s accounts of the miracle use the exact same wording. John writes “when they were all filled.”
One of the most important aspects of this miracle was not that over 5,000 were fed with five loaves and two fish, but that all ate and were satisfied. Somehow I had never seen that.
Everyone ate. Not some, not a few, but ALL ate that day.
And ALL were satisfied. ALL were filled. Do you realized how rare that was in Jesus’ day? Do you realize how rare it continues to be, even today?
We live in a world blessed and created perfectly. There’s far more than enough food available for all of the human family to eat and even to be filled. Why is it then that we quietly stand by while 25,000 of our family needlessly die daily from lack of enough food to eat?
Maybe we just need another miracle…like learning how to become caring enough to share. What do you think?