What Tim Taught Me About Compassion

When I was in seventh grade there was this kid named Tim, who annoyed me.  Truth be told, Tim annoyed everyone.  

One day Tim and I got into a fight in class.  It wasn't much of a fight, honestly.  Tim said something insulting to me for like the fourth time that day, and I jumped out of my desk and tackled him. 

By the time the teacher pulled me off of him, I had been pounding on Tim's head pretty good.  We both got sent the principals office and we both got paddled, which still happened back in those days.  

I had to shake Tim's hand and act all buddy-buddy afterward, but when we were walking down the hall back to class I told him, "You keep mouthing off to me like that, and I'm going to kick your butt all over again."

Tim looked at me blankly and said, "If I get paddled at school, I get way worse when I get home. Way worse."  At that moment, for the first time since the beginning of the fracas, Tim began to cry. 

I remember feeling as low as I had ever felt in my life.  I looked at Tim crying behind his beat up and bent glasses, and saw his worn, hand-me-down clothes and tattered shoes. I wondered what he meant by getting "way worse" than a paddling.  

I wish I'd said something to Tim.  I wish that I had told him I was sorry.  I wish that in the subsequent weeks of school that I had done anything at all to show him that I had seen him--not as an annoying weirdo, but as a broken, lonely, poor and struggling kid.  

Instead, I watched as Tim got picked on, yelled at, called names, ignored by girls and pranked by the high school boys.  I just watched and said nothing.  It is one of my greatest regrets. 

In Psalm 82, God speaks to his people in no uncertain terms about what God expects of them when it comes to the weak and the oppressed:  
2 “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? 3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;  uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Every time I am tempted to do nothing to make this world a better place... to remain apathetic instead of seeking the kingdom of God... to side with the oppressors rather than doing whatever I can to take up the cause of the oppressed...  

Every time... I think of Tim. 

This week the news has been filled with stories of immigrant parents being separated from their children at our borders.  Innocent children, who through no fault of their own (as they almost always do), are bearing the weight of it all.   

Politics aside... legalities aside... there is only one true Christian response to this important moment: Compassion.  

We can do better.  We need to defend the weak and the fatherless and to identify with the poor and the oppressed, both in our neighborhoods, on our borders and around the world.  There are people all around us who are broken, lonely, poor and struggling.  

Jesus would have us extend His love to them.  

May you have your eyes opened to see those around you who are in need of your mercy.  May you discover new ways to be the hands and feet of Christ to them.  May you bring the kingdom of God to every corner of the world where you serve.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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