Living in the Image of God M02S04
Compassion entails sacrifice and generosity. Sacrifice is the value of goods and service that a person denies self to alleviate another’s need. Generosity implies a person’s effort in compassion is voluntary, constrained only by his or her ability to address the need, and motivated only by a desire to convey God’s love and care to the needy.
This bible study seeks to expand our understanding of compassion through a discussion of the role of sacrifice and generosity in providing goods or service to alleviate another person’s suffering. Compassion entails sacrifice, which means that a person will deny himself or herself something of value in responding to alleviate the need of another. Furthermore, compassion entails generosity, which means that a person’s effort in a call to compassion has to be voluntary, constrained only by his or her ability to address the need, and motivated only by a desire to convey God’s love and care to the person in need.
We discuss an example from David and one from Ruth to understand the nature of sacrifice in compassion. Also, we discuss from Paul’s message to the Corinthians to understand the implications of generosity in compassion.
Sacrifice in Compassion
In a call to compassion, sacrifice is the opportunity cost of goods and service provided to alleviate the need. That is, sacrifice is the value of goods and service that the provider denies to himself or herself in order to provide for the needy. In the example we discussed previously under Call to Compassion Example—Good Samaritan, the Samaritan sustained costs of time and materials to provide first aid and transport the robber victim to an inn. Furthermore, he sustained additional cost in direct cash payment and promise of additional payment to the inn for expected treatment of the victim.
If the goods or service cost nothing to the provider, then some other person likely bears the cost and will receive the credit. We discuss two examples to illustrate the nature of sacrifice in compassion: one example from David and one from Ruth.
Example 1: David Builds an Altar
In a message to David through Prophet Gad, God told David to build an altar at a specific site to end a plague against Israel: “On that day Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite’” [2 Samuel 24:18]. David was the king of Israel and wanted to build the altar as God commanded in order to alleviate his people’s suffering. Araunah the Jebusite offered the property free of charge to David, along with other items David needed for the altar and offering [2 Samuel 24:22–23]: “Araunah said to David, ‘Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. Your Majesty, Araunah gives all this to the king…May the Lord your God accept you.’”
However, David refused the free-of-charge offer and insisted on paying for the property: “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” [2 Samuel 24:24]. He paid for the property and materials: “So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them” [2 Samuel 24:24]. He built an altar there, made offerings, and prayed for Israel. Thereafter, the plague on Israel stopped.
Example 2: Ruth Chooses to Live with Naomi
The account of Ruth’s relationship with Naomi begins after Naomi’s husband and two sons died in Moab. Thereafter, Naomi released her Moabite daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth to depart from her and seek new life. They both resisted initially but Orpah was later persuaded, accepted the release, and left [Ruth 1:14]: “At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.”
Ruth insisted on building life with Naomi because she recognized Naomi’s need for family and committed to doing what she could to alleviate Naomi’s suffering: [Ruth 1:16-17]: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
As we discuss under Ruth Joins Naomi—Faith Human Effort and Compassion, Ruth’s choice to stay with Naomi meant a personal sacrifice. She abandoned the opportunity for an alternate life with reasonably foreseeable future and opted instead for life with the mother of her dead husband with the associated uncertainty of potentially living as a spinster in a foreign land.
Generosity in Compassion
In responding to a call to compassion, generosity means that a person’s effort to alleviate the need is voluntary, constrained only by his or her ability to address the need, and motivated only by a desire to convey God’s love and care to the needy. Paul discussed generosity in his letter to the Corinthians [2 Corinthians 9:6–7]: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Summary of What We Learned
Compassion entails sacrifice and generosity.
Sacrifice is the value of goods and service that a person denies self to alleviate another’s need.
Generosity implies a person’s effort in compassion is voluntary, constrained only by his or her ability to address the need, and motivated only by a desire to convey God’s love and care to the needy.