Saturday, November 10, 2012

Virtue Through Compassion

"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men..."
Galatians 6:10
(KJV)


A Virtuous Woman Series - Part 8 of 8

(If you wish, to better understand this study, please read
Part 1,
Part 2,
Part 3,
Part 4,
Part 5,
Part 6, &
Part 7
of the Virtuous Woman series first.)

We've reached the last phase of our study on a virtuous woman.

I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.
I hope it has stoked a fire deep within you to
edge ever closer to being the woman of virtue
God seeks.

It is one thing to profess to be virtuous.
It is quite another to possess the inward experience.

Dad used to tell me that charity is love with work gloves on.
We can profess to be pious, virtuous, "ultra-spiritual",
we can say we have the love of God in our hearts,
but until we put it into action in our everyday lives,
our testimony is flat....
and without influence.

The last verse in our study regards compassion...
in the heart of a woman...
and how it doesn't remain in her heart...
but spills over into the life she lives
and the actions she takes.

Jesus was the most compassionate person
who ever walked the face of the earth.
His ministry was driven and powered by
a strong, deep pity for those who crossed His path.
He realized that He would only be here for a little while.
That His time on earth, in a human form, was limited.
That there was a steadily-narrowing window of opportunity
instilled in every existing need.
That if He didn't walk through that window in time,
it would be forever closed....
His chance of meeting the need would have expired,
and the opportunity would never reappear.

We only pass through this world one time.
There are golden opportunities all around us...
to bestow the virtue...
from our hearts...
into the lives of those who need love.


"She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; 
yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy."
Verse 20

Compassion compels her.
She cannot overlook the needs of others.
Even though she has a comfortable life,
even though she has a home that is warm and inviting,
she realizes there are many who don't.
She is constantly in tune with directives from the Holy Spirit.
As He prompts her to help, she is quick to respond.
She recognizes that time is of the essence...
that someone else's need is passing....
that the invitation to be Jesus to them is a limited-time offer.
Once it is past,
it quite possibly will not be presented again.
She knows that people move on...
and pass away.
She stretches herself...
to the point of self-sacrifice....
to make her hands connect...
with the poor.
She doesn't recoil from the stench...
or ugliness....
or undesirable elements.
She knows that a virtuous Christian testimony is only as good
as the actions that back it up.
She knows there is a difference between being poor...
and being needy.
She is keenly aware that one can be abundantly rich,
but hopelessly needy.....
of love,
compassion,
understanding,
kindness...
a caring heart.
She sees beyond the lofty facade...
the steel wall....
the aloof persona....
to the inside....
of the one who yearns for a helping hand.
She peers beyond the off-putting exterior,
and sees the tears behind the haughtiness.
And she reaches forth her hands....
in gentleness,
and genuine sincerity.
She isn't deterred by resistances.
She goes on loving...
and caring...
and hoping for the moment...
when the ice melts...
and she has successfully penetrated past the layers,
to the hurting, needy heart inside.
Her life is one of selflessness.
She doesn't count personal cost,
when she is able to help another.
She can be counted upon to be there,
to come through,
and to do what is possible....
even when it puts her out...
in spite of spoiled plans...
she knows there are greater needs than her own.
That it is not all about her.
That to think it is,
is a huge mistake.
Her radar consistently searches...
for signs of a need she can fill.
It gives her great joy...
and fulfillment...
to deny herself...
for the sake of others.
She has come to know that true joy is....
Jesus first.........
Others second...
Yourself last......

So, I ask you, my friend, who are "the poor" 
and "the needy" in your world?

Chances are, no matter how extenuating your circumstances,
there just may be someone worse off than you.

Money is tight.
The economy is depressed.
If you aren't able to give monetarily,
what about Jesus' instruction in Matthew 25:31-46
to feed the hungry...
give drink to the thirsty...
take in the stranger....
clothe the naked...
visit the sick...
and go to those in prison?

Have you read it lately?

Perhaps we all should.

Have any extra....
clothing,
shoes,
food,
household goods,
winter coats...
just lying around...
accumulating dust?

Has the Holy Spirit prompted you to give it away,
instead of holding it back for the next yard sale...
or trying to sell it some other way....
and make a profit?
Why not give it away?

How long has He been dealing with you...
to help the poor?

There are plenty of church ministries,
plenty of channels,
to make your "trash"
someone else's "treasure".

Do you know anyone who is financially "needy"?
What about emotionally?
Is there an elderly person in your life who is desperately lonely
and in dire need of companionship?
How about your Mom?
Your Dad?
A grandparent?
When is the last time you called them....
just to say, "I love you"?
When is the last time you stopped by....
just to give them a much-needed...
and much-deserved hug?
No one can do it like you.
No one lights their world....like you do.
When is the last time you told them how much you appreciate
all they have done for you?

Please listen when I tell you, my friend....
one day, they won't be there to tell.

One day, you will pick up the phone and dial that familiar number...
you know...the one you've dialed every day for the past umpteen years...
you will find yourself caught up in a moment of excitement to tell them some news,
or desperate in a moment of despair, yearning with all your heart to talk to them....
to hear that familiar, soothing voice...
forgetting for the moment that they are gone...
taken back to what you knew as "normal" for so many years....
and you won't be jarred back to cold, hard reality until you hear
"The number you have called has been disconnected"...
on the other end of the phone.

How you will wish you had made that phone call...
much, much sooner.
One day you will drive by the place they used to live,
and the door will be closed,
there will no welcoming smile in the doorway,
an unfamiliar wreath will hang on the front door.
How you will long for just one glimpse...
just one more moment...
in their presence.
The harsh truth that you will never visit them again
will be one of the hardest things you will ever face.

Is there a child in your life who is needy?
Of food?
Of shoes?
Of clothes?
Of love?
Of a hug?
Of a listening ear?
Of an understanding, non-judgmental heart?

One day, that child will be a child no longer.
They will have moved on...
to a place not so needy....
not so dependent....
not so interested...
in you and what you can give them.

Perhaps that needy child is your own.
Nothing positively affirms your own child
like a word of praise...
not from a stranger...
but from you.

A harsh tone,
continual rebuke,
constant criticism...
does nothing to fill an empty, needy heart.

So, who do you know that is "poor"?
Who in your world is "needy"?
There are many facets and dimensions...
of the words "poor" and "needy".

Are your hands stretched out...
or are you tight-fisted...
when it comes to stretching towards the poor?

Are you reaching out...
or selfishly grabbing for all you can...
when it comes to meeting others' needs?

We are approaching my favorite holiday....Christmas.
It will be my second without Mom.
As excited and happy as I am to see it come,
there is a deep sense of void in my still-broken heart.
I approach it with still-mixed emotions this year.

Mom is not here...
to laugh with,
to buy presents for,
to take along on Christmas shopping adventures,
to watch Zach open his presents on Christmas Eve,
to share goodies and hugs and fun.

It will be very different...
and difficult....
again this year.
Unlike Christmases gone by.
My heart shatters each time I think of it....
I still miss her so much...it hurts.

I know I will break down from time to time.
I will long for her...even more than I do every, single day.


We now use this little lavender box we painted her favorite color
and stenciled for her one year for Christmas...
to hold sympathy cards, special mementos, and reminders of her.

The situation is what it is.
It will not change.
No matter how much I weep...
no matter how much I miss her....
no matter how much I yearn for things to be like they were...
to be normal....
once again.

But, you know what?
I've been thinking.
There are others....
who need me.
Who gladly accept and appreciate the willingness of my heart
and my desire and yearning to make a positive difference.
Who encourage me as I am endeavoring to pick them up.

I think Christmas is a great season to show Jesus' compassionate heart.
To share the virtue in our own.

We are so blessed.
There is always great reason to rejoice...
even if our rejoicing is expressed...
through streaming tears, at times.

There are those who are not as fortunate....
as you...
and me.
There are those who are hurting....
who have also lost loved ones recently....
who would give anything they own....
just for a kind word...
a gentle hug...
a listening ear.

It always makes a person feel better to stop looking at their own problems
and start focusing on someone else's.
Nothing cheers the heart more than cheering the heart of someone else.

Zach is such a sweet, little guy.
He still misses his Nana every day.

Maybe we will go looking for someone Mom's age...
who might be "needy".
Maybe we will go visit a nursing home....
just walk down the hall...
pass out Christmas cards...
(who knows, it may be the only one they get this year)
share some smiles....
(couldn't we all use one?)
give some hugs....
(how long has it been since they felt the embrace of a sincere hug?)
say some kind words....
(their echoes will come back to us time after time.)

There are so many who are needy....
the possibilities to make a difference are endless.

We found a great, new Christian-based thrift store the other day.
I think we will gather up some things we don't need....
and drop them off so they can sell them cheap...
to those who need them most....
during the colder months around Christmas.

We can all be creative...
and imaginative...
to find new, unexplored ways...
to make a positive, joyful difference...
in our world.

The Proverbs 31 woman did not overlook the needs of others.

As we seek to emulate her,
we shouldn't overlook them either.

Thank you for walking through this study with me!
I feel a fresh sense of challenge and motivation to be the woman of virtue God seeks.
I hope you will join me on my journey to get there.  :)

6 comments:

  1. Hi, Cheryl. WOW! What a moving post that makes us all think seriously about our responsibility as followers of Christ! I have worked in social work and the counseling environment for over 30 years. I currently am a receptionist at our church's counseling center. I meet people every day at work....hurting people. In fact, just last evening there was a client who came in for counseling who was depressed and from what I was told, suicidal. It was unclear to me of the details, but I knew he needed prayer and attention immediately. My involvement was limited, but I have prayed for God's intervention and offered to help in any way I could. When the evening was over, I wasn't sure if I had done enough. I'm still praying for him today (and would covet your prayers) and will be checking up on him. There are friends and family who are surrounding him with concern and support. It did come to my mind, though, that if he did try anything, even though I'm not directly involved, I would wish I would have gotten more involved. Life is so very short and the door of opportunity small, We need to be sensitive to God's leading us to take action, when needed.
    Blessings, Ann @ Christ in the Clouds
    http://christintheclouds.blogspot.com/

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    1. Ann, Thank you SO much for stopping by and for leaving such wonderful encouragement behind! God is using you in a powerful way and has placed you right where you are to minister and be Christ to those who are hurting. What a wonderful testimony you have to share! The seeds you are planting every day are not in vain. I am looking forward to checking out your blog. Please come again! God's peace & grace be with you as you serve Him faithfully. Love, Cheryl

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  2. Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts with us here at "Tell Me a Story." It is true that we miss our beloved family members who have gone before us into glory. Your mother was a precious Saint and although she is not with you physically, I believe she peers over the clouds with the other witnesses to behold how you continue to serve Jesus in what ever way you can find. There are others who we meet that need our loving touch and perhaps a gift however small to show love.

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    1. Thank you SO much, Hazel. Your words truly blessed me today. I loved thinking about how Mom is in that great cloud of witnesses! Praise the dear Lord for the thoughts you shared! You are a consistent blessing to me. God be with you today. Love, Cheryl

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  3. Just what I needed to bless me this evening!
    Love ya
    Chris

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, dear friend. So thankful for your visit. Love and appreciate you!

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