A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
A robin's nest nestled against the wall and light on our back deck.
"A Consideration Of Compassion"
Note: Today we have a much longer Scripture selection and longer message since we feel this needs to be addressed in our time.
Message summary: As those who follow Christ and the teachings of the Bible we urge each reader to work hard and be compassionate toward others. We pray that God gives you discernment to distinguish that which is helpful and that which is harmful compassion.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12). In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.' We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12). "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).
During this season we enjoy walking through our yard and looking for evidence of new life. Several weeks ago we shared several photos of a robin who had built a nest behind our utility barn on a shelf where we store planters.
We noticed another robin trying to build a nest on a porch light outside over our deck. It was a pitiful site as she would bring the straw material up but just couldn't seem to get a nest started. It would fall down before she was able to lock it together. This happened day after day until we had quite a mess with strands of straw strewn about all over the side of the deck. Brooksyne could take it no longer and decided to see if the robin would accept her help and she sort of built a nest for the robin. Lo and behold the next day the bird decided her nest was acceptable though built with human hands. We have been watching over the nest seen above with four eggs in it for over a week now! It's only a few feet below our second floor bathroom window so we get a great view for photos.
Frankly I had questioned the wisdom of Brooksyne helping her and wondered if that spot was just not destined to be a nest but mother robin seems to be doing fine. Several years ago we had a robin's nest in this very spot and Ester took many photos of them.
That got me thinking about the times helping is good and the times helping, although seeming compassionate, is not so good and is actually harmful. Let me illustrate. Let's say I am there when the eggs begin to hatch. From my vantage point the baby robins are really struggling to get out of the egg and it would seem so compassionate to help them. So I get a pair of tweezers and speed up the process, releasing them from the egg much quicker and freeing them of their struggles. I feel real good about my kindness!
But I recall learning in science class that you don't want to do this. The struggle to break though the shell is part of the design for a healthy hatchling. Although my intentions may be compassionate they would actually be harmful and destructive.
In life there is helpful compassion and there is destructive compassion.
Many of you know that we work as chaplains in the workplace serving a variety of companies here in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties, PA. We drive throughout these counties to visit various workplaces several times a week. Everywhere we see "help wanted" signs. But many people prefer not to work unless they can get the kind of job they want or feel they deserve. So many who went to college have an essentially worthless degree but feel entitled to a good job. In many cases government unemployment benefits are a critical disincentive to work. Sadly this has become political, something I don't believe either side would have disagreed about just several years ago. Regardless of what party you were in or where you were on the political spectrum it was agreed that people need to work!
One of the consequences I see to this is how hard those who still practice the fourth commandment "you shall work", with overtime and increased stress levels. This is particularly true in the trades. I am speaking to people who are very weary as they carry an extra load.
I am not an academic (see Acts 17:21 for my view of so many academics) and I'm not a politician (see Mark 15:15 for how many politicians operate). I am not a government bureaucrat or specialist in one narrow field who so often seems to be blinded to all the ramifications. I am just a man in my mid-sixties who has been through the best college of all, the school of hard knocks. Actually I have a college degree but in real life it's not been nearly as valuable as my hard knocks degree.
I observe life where people actually live and talk to many each week. I believe in hard work and responsibility, taking care of yourself and your family. I believe all work that contributes to society is valuable, including and perhaps mostly "dirty jobs". (Mike Rowe's term).
Is there a time for helpful compassion? Absolutely. Early in the church's history a natural outflow of the new life in Christ was made visible through believer's acts of compassion. In Acts 4:32-35 we see this as the early church cared for one another. The people gave and "it was distributed to anyone who had need". May God keep our hearts compassionate toward those who have needs. "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12).
Is there a time "compassion" can be harmful? In our view indeed there is and it's common and destructive. It can be practiced in the church but now the biggest purveyor of phony, destructive compassion is the government.
Our second two daily texts address harmful "compassion". It addresses those taking advantage of the system, whether the church or government, which may be motivated by compassion. We wonder if it was addressing some who were taking advantage of the compassion demonstrated in the first daily text. Some were idle and disruptive and did not live according to Paul's teaching and example, "we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you". Note how often in our observation disruptiveness follows idleness. Paul wrote, "Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat".
A verse likely to be among the lesser memorized verses in the Bible that states a very needed truth, "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8). That's a very serious indictment on idleness!
As those who follow Christ and the teachings of the Bible we urge each reader to work hard and be compassionate toward others. We pray that God gives you discernment to distinguish that which is helpful and that which is harmful compassion.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father God, we thank You for the tools You have given us to work with - our intellect, our creativity, our eyes, hands, and feet. You grant to us the opportunity to put into practice the command that we are to work with our hands so that we are not dependent on others and so that we can provide for those You have entrusted to our care. Give us strength, know how, and the will to obey You in this most important command so that we are not a burden to others. Instead we seek to meet the financial needs of our family while also contributing to the community and ministry. You've providentially placed us in. Through Christ we can do all things. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Battle Belongs" Video Phil Wickham Another song we have been blessed by. We dedicate this to all our persecuted brothers and sisters. We are studying persecution in our Adult Bible Fellowship using materials from the Voice Of The Martyrs and desire to live with an awareness of those suffering and be faithfully praying for them.
Here's a close-up of the robin eggs on our back deck light. As of late Monday when we could still see them they have not yet hatched and I have no plans to help them!
The photos were taken six years ago when a robin made a nest in this very same spot. It makes for a good view out our window to see the progress but it also make a mess on our siding and deck!
A couple of weeks later we had a great view looking down on the nest from our bathroom window only about seven feet away. We noticed three eggs as Mother Robin does her duty as God designed.
New life and hungry!
She had two (at least) little hungry mouths to feed. (The white diagonal across the top is my gutter as she has made her nest under my eaves.)
Time Lapse video of Robin Bird Eggs in Nest Hatching to Fledging (1 minute 19 seconds)
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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