The Cost of Compassion

January 18, 2004

“Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46). These strange words mean at least this much: Jesus knew God’s power had flowed from him into the body of the woman who touched his garment. Power that had been his passed from him to her. It resulted in her healing, but the power had to go out from him first.

There is a universal truth here. If you follow Jesus and get involved with the needy people of this world, you will be conscious of power flowing out from your life as well. By definition those in need lack the strength necessary to face the challenges of life. The only way they can get strength or power is from those who have more than they do. Ministering to such people means that power or strength or virtue will flow out from your life to theirs. It will cost you something that you will not easily replace–the very strength of your own life.

Many years ago, T. DeWitt Talmage said it this way: “There is no addition of help to others, without the subtraction of power from ourselves.” Then he elaborated: “Now if omnipotence cannot help others without depletion, how can we ever expect to bless the world without self-sacrifice? A man who gives to some Christian object until he feels it, a man who in his occupation or profession overworks that he may educate his children, a man who on Sunday night goes home, all his nervous energy wrung out by active service in Church, or Sabbath-school, or city evangelization, has imitated Christ, and the strength has gone out of him. A mother who robs herself of sleep in behalf of a sick child, a wife who bears up cheerfully under domestic misfortune that she may encourage her husband in the combat against disaster, a woman who by hard saving, and earnest prayer, and good counsel, wisely given, and many years devoted to rearing her family for God and usefulness and heaven, and who has nothing to show for it but premature gray hairs, and a profusion of deep wrinkles, is like Christ, and strength has gone out of her.”

If you follow Jesus, the same thing will happen to you. You will give and give and the power will go out from you. You can help people, but it will cost you something. Not just time, not just energy, not just money, but your very life. Strength will go out from you into the lives of the people you help. They will grow stronger; you will grow weaker. In the end, like Jesus, you too will be exhausted. You may not live as long as you would like. But when you die, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you lived your life for others and that the strength that has gone out from you has not been wasted on the trivial pursuits of this world.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?