Talk Is Cheap

Written by cycleguy on January 25th, 2011

I woke up this morning (Tuesday) at 3:15 with a thought running through my head.  Not just once but over and over.  I couldn’t figure out its significance.  The phrase?  Compassion in Action.  That’s all.  Just Compassion in Action.  What in the world is that all about?  I mean…I have woke up awakened (which one is right?) with things on my mind but not three little words.  Then it dawned on me.  Just before a meeting I had at 6:30 last night, I had glanced through The Hole In Our Gospel, the book we have been discussing for several months now.   Richard’s whole chapter is about compassion, especially in relation to AIDS victims.  He forms his basis for this week’s chapter around two churches -one large and one small-getting the job done in relation to that ugly disease.  Both are located in Africa- the larger one in Fish Hoek, South Africa; and the smaller church of 120 in Zambia.   Both are to be commended for their efforts in caring for and reaching out to AIDS patients.

What evidently sparked my early morning wake-up “call” was the phrase Richard uses: “Jesus was filled with compassion.”  (p.239) What is so earth-shattering with that?  Let’s face it: the Bible is filled with evidence of that truth.  That tree won’t shake down any new fruit.  So, now what?  That is when it came to me this morning how I can finish out that line.  Nothing earth-shattering or teeth-rattling or goose-pimply.


Told you it wasn’t anything that would set the world on fire with a new revelation.  My mind flashes to the old story about the little boy who was afraid to go into the dark garage and get the broom.  After several tries and prodding from his folks his father said, “Son, Jesus will be with you.”   The little boy thought about that for a moment and then said, “That’s good but I prefer mine to have skin on it.”  That young boy has a point.   We can talk a lot about compassion.  We can  even be a part of Compassion International.  But I reckon the real question is: How much skin are we willing to put into our compassion?  “Oh, let’s get a committee together  to study it and the implement it.”  Forget the committee!!


I include myself in that challenge as well.  I have a sensitive heart but often that does not translate into action.    So…I leave you with that.  Put skin to your compassion.  One person at a time we can make a difference.  How about you?  Are you doing anything at this point to put skin to your compassion?  I would like to hear about it.

This is part of the book discussion on The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, hosted by Jason and Sarah. For more contributors visit Jason’s site.


49 Comments so far ↓

  1. jay sauser says:

    thanks for your heart felt posts bill. i know i’m getting the real deal when I read you

  2. lindaM says:

    Hi Bill,
    Again, compassion is a wonderful and needed attribute in the life of the Christian. But, this does not compel us (Christians) to be the ones that have to respond to the needs of those who have chosen to sin and have reaped the consequences of their actions.

    To me that’s similar to saying that Christians need to have compassion on drunk drivers who have killed others by that error. We’re not compelled to go out and seek drunk drivers and show compassion on them by telling them that everything is ok. God forgives them. Does God forgive them even when they may not acknowledge that there is even a God?

    For sure, if God leads us we can show compassion but we are not responsible to act without a compelling and directing from the Holy Spirit. I am thinking that there is teaching going around today by people with good intentions that are trying to put these types of burdens on the Christian For sure Christians can act with compassion but it is not their reponsibility to relieve the burden of AIDS victims. It’s the world’s responsibility that is being given over to the righteous and I am upset about it.

    To my knowledge AIDS appeared in the world because of rampant sexual promiscuity. Men with men and women with women and also hertosexual promiscuity.

    Where are the partners, sexual lovers and loving and caring friends of the AIDS victims once they become seriously ill? The AIDS victims’ family is usually the one who have to ‘pick up the pieces’ of a loved one who is dying because of bad choices and unrepentant sin.

    The talk is that homosexuality is a inherited trait. That people have been hiding this ‘no fault disease’ for centuries. But the Bible says that people given over to reprobate minds will involve themselves in debauchery and every evil and dark thing.

    Does God condemn leprosy? To those who sought him out and looked to him for deliverance from leprosy in the Bible, Jesus healed them, he had compassion on them. Some of these people with leprosy never even thanked him when they received healings.

    AIDS victims are no different. They need to reach out to God and ask for healing and forgiveness. Many refuse, because they will not admit guilt. ‘It’s not my fault’ ‘I can’t help what I am or what I do’ Really?

    • cycleguy says:

      Linda: I know you speak your thoughts but I just wanted to weigh in on this. The purpose of my post was the whole idea of putting compassion into action. I use the AIDS example only because the author uses it in his book of two churches reaching out to AIDS victims and their families. While I may say there are consequences to sin (I believe there are) I cannot shut my eyes or my life to those who reap those consequences. I don’t see jesus doing that while on earth either. The woman caught in adultery, for example, was condemned by the religious leaders but not by Him. He did not approve of her sin. In fact, he said, “Go and sin no more.” Her adultery was sin but He was into changing lives. While we cannot change lives, we serve the Savior who does. While I do not approve of homosexuality, I don’t believe I am to shut out those who practice it. How else will they hear unless someone tells them? (Rom.10) It is not important to me at this point how AIDS is spread, but it is important to me how I respond as a Christ-follower. It is not even an issue, especially for this post, whether someone tells me they inherited or or learned it. My point was and is to show compassion by my actions, not just my words. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I hope others will do so as well and correct me if I am wrong even.

      • lindaM says:

        Hi Bill,
        I am not prejudiced against the homosexual. I sit with women who are gay at a Philosopher’s cafe in our local college and talk. I hug the gay woman.

        I am not saying that Christians hould not be compassionate. But the believers’ compassion does not need to be regulated, organized and managed by church leadership.

        What bugs me is the world trying to use the righteous to work for free. To try and solve the worlds’ problems that have come about because of the sin and actions of worldly and out of control people.

        I think that some Christian leaders have picked up this
        thinking and are teaching that the Christian is the one to fix these world problems by their generosity,compassion and free labor.

        There is nothing wrong with being compassionate, helpful, and merciful. What I am opposed to is teaching from Christian leaders that we are somehow responsible to bear the cost and the burden of the world’s sin.

        Jesus bore the cost and burden of the world’s sin. That is not our job. Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Jesus is the answer.

        The world rejects Jesus but is quite willing to use the righteous to help themselves out. This is not compassion but abuse of people, and Christian leaders should stay away from it.

        These are just some of my thoughts.

        • cycleguy says:

          Linda: i wasn’t accusing you of prejudice and I apologize for sounding like it. I was concerned because I thought I “saw” a hint of animosity. I am glad you clarified it for me and those who may read it. I know some take advantage of Christians but I also wonder about the “giving of the cloak” that Jesus talked about. Where does ministry stop and start? Truth: we can’t change the world but we do serve the ONE who does. Thanks again for your thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to share and clarify.

  3. Dustin says:

    Great question, and you’re right- all it takes is “one person at a time”. Right now, we (my wife and I) try to be really generous with our time. A lot of our friends don’t have family in town, so oftentime they’ll rely on friends if something does come up. Within the last couple weeks we’ve watched kids so friends could go to a wedding, go to hospital, give birth, etc. I’m proud of my wife in this area-she is really aware and intentional to volunteer in this.

    And honestly, our family grows closer just as much during these times.

    • cycleguy says:

      i am glad to see you and your wife doing little things to show compassion to those around you whom you know have no family around. As a pastor’s family we often found we spent holidays alone because we were the outsider. It is cool to see your wife the lead in this as well. I believe God will bless your actions. Thanks Dustin for the comment.

  4. Tom Raines says:

    Great topic Bill and glad the Holy Spirit was resounding in your heart (I am assuming isn’t wasn’t something you ate last night). I was reminded of compassion last night in a Celebrate Recovery small group meeting. I catch glimpses of how Jesus must feel when I mess up again and again. When I see men come into a meeting who are honest about their sins and they really hate them but don’t understand why they are weak and failed again. I feel love and compassion and not a burden to let them know that God loves them, I love them and encourage them they will find Him if they continue to seek Him. I know because I have been where they are and there is hope. To let them know we are there for them physically and spiritually to help them down the road. I am reminded of those who showed me compassion versus judgement when I was lost. The compassionate are those we like to follow. Jesus’ love in our skin.

    • cycleguy says:

      And THAT my dear friend is what makes you to cool! You have not forgotten from where you came. You do not deny it. but you do not wallow in it. You are a testimony to the grace of God. Thanks for coming by.

  5. jeff says:

    Some people that call themselves Christian just annoy the ____ out of me. Some believe they are righteous enough to judge a person and decide who needs compassion and who doesn’t. And further believe that a dove or something will crap on their shoulder to give them a sign that is is time to be compassionate. What lunacy.
    I think the parable of the Good Samaritan should be enough for even the simplest of minds to comprehend. A Samaritan(not a Christian), who despised Jews, as much as some Christians despise their favorite targets, stopped and helped his neighbor. This, after the priest and the Levite passed by. Maybe they were waiting on the sign too.
    Do you think maybe, just maybe, Jesus was trying to make a point. Even the illiterate people in Bronze Age Palestine knew what he was talking about.(After they got over the shock of hearing something nice said about a Samaritan.) Love your neighbor as yourself. Love being Agape as in Charity.

    • cycleguy says:

      You make a good point Jeff using the Samaritan vs. the religious leaders. We are to love our neighbor as ourself and I will not deny that but will argue the fact of it. Thanks for you comment (even though I would say you were a little upset?) 😛

  6. jeff says:

    Actually I am not at all upset. My polemic nature may make it appear that way. I can get upset following the story about covering up systemic child abuse, that the overdressed, bat-eared little weasel called the Pope has been putting out lately.

  7. jeff says:

    OK Now I am going to be nice again

  8. jasonS says:

    I think what you’ve said here is earth-shattering and revolutionary, but just like every other profound thought we’ve heard many times over, it doesn’t mean anything to us until we do something with it. We make it a part of us. Great thoughts, Bill. I’m definitely with you! 🙂

  9. Jason says:

    Not putting skin on my compassion…yet. Working now to put the skin on the bone.

  10. Jim F says:

    This is one of those things that pushes me forward and challenges me to look more closely at me.

    Love the post and the idea of COMPASSION IN ACTION IS LOVE WITH SKIN

    Good thoughts!

  11. Susan says:

    I enjoyed this post, cycleguy. I spent most of my life in legalistic churches that demonstrated little compassion and mercy to those who were most in need – especially if they were not a part of that church or perceived that the person had brought it on him/herself. Had I been a more courageous person growing up, I might have taken issue with it (not that it would have been received).

    A healthy church, perhaps, with believers gifted in mercy, and believers gifted in discernment would strike a biblical balance in mercy ministries.

    I think, too, that as individuals, we need to be in tune to the heart of God by way of the Holy Spirit. Not every showing of mercy is a long-term project. It may be a kind word strategically place under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    I have friends who watched over a neighbor man with AIDS. His partner had already passed on. Through the ministry that had been laid on their hearts, they took meals to him, and ministered here and there in his life. One day near the end of his life, he called them over. An eternal transaction took place that day, and that man received Jesus as his Savior.

    We don’t always know the beginning and/or the end of the story of each person to whom God sends us to show mercy. It is not our job to decide who, among all of those in need of mercy is deserving. Some plant the seed, some water the plants, and some are involved in the harvest. Our job is to obey the Holy Spirit when He directs us to a need – in our church, or elsewhere.

    • cycleguy says:

      Susan: it is so sad that so many are in a straight-jacket when it comes to their faith. Legalism kills. I like your thought about the balance between mercy and discernment. Very wise words. and I absolutely LOVE the redemption story of the man with AIDS. Fantastic! Thanks so much for a great comment.

  12. Michael says:

    Put skin on our compassion. Bill, this is so very much needed today. There are so many people who are hurting and we just feel bad for them. But just feeling bad doesn’t really do anything. Excellent stuff my friend. Sorry for the ramble, this just hit hard today.

  13. Hmm. I struggle with this one. I’m such a bad Christian, huh?

    I “get” the concept of compassion, but like Linda pointed out in her comments, I have a difficult time separating the sin from its consequences.

    I’m working on this. Thanks for the post, Bill.

  14. Always love your perspective Bill…thanks.

    Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. ~Seneca

  15. Desert Jim says:

    “Compassion in Action” is the name of my friend’s organization in Tempe, AZ that ministers to families and people that have been affected by HIV/AIDS. My friends Steve and Patty Robenalt have spent the last 18 years being living examples of your post Bill.

    Here’s the big twist on this – try to raise money for an AIDS ministry in the Christian world. It is very tough. They have struggled for the whole time to make ends meet. But they are in it because they want to share God’s love with people who have gotten everything but love from other Christians.

    The following is from their website

    Compassion in Action is directed by Steve and Patty Robenalt who began this work after they experienced the diagnosis of AIDS and later death of Patty’s mother in 1989. Rather than condemnation, the Robenalt’s see compassion and hope extending from the heart of God for all people infected or affected by HIV disease. Compassion in Action is committed to equipping and mobilizing local church congregations to reach out with the love and compassion of Jesus to care for the needs of all people touched by HIV/AIDS.

    • cycleguy says:

      Powerful stuff Jim! Man, I wish I had known about this when I wrote the post. Maybe sometime in the future… It is great to see someone taking seriously this challenge and making a difference. Thanks my friend.

  16. The reason/purpose/motive for our compassion is to glorify God and allow people to experience His love and message of reconciliation.

    It is definitely time for us to put skin to our compassion and to His message.

    • cycleguy says:

      Good point Dusty. Must always keep our purpose for doing what we do in front of us and make sure it is to glorify God and not ourselves. Thanks.

  17. One way we have done this is through adopting 4 children. Plenty of people feel bad about children without parents–not all do something about it. I’m not suggesting that everyone should adopt a child, but everyone can show kindness to children who are struggling in one way or another.

    • cycleguy says:

      Good point Matt. You have taken a very tangible way to show compassion. Not all can but we must do what we can and how our giftedness is. Thanks for a great example.

  18. Cameyg says:

    Compassion in Action….

    Skin is in.

    Dangerous prayers & love!

    • cycleguy says:

      Somehow I know you mean more than tattoos. 🙂 Good to hear from you Camey. Much love to you as well.

      • Cameyg says:

        You got that right! Speaking of tattoos….

        Learned last night that awhile back a couple tried to have a “tattoo parlor” in our small town. It didn’t fly because the people of the town weren’t in to that sort of thing.

        We’ve got to have our eyes truly open to what benefits others… not just what may float our own boats.

        See? There was a reason why you mentioned tattoos!

        • cycleguy says:

          Spoken like a true Pastor’s wife…the ability to take whatever is said and make it apply. 🙂 But you do make a good point: we have to have our eyes open to what benefits others. Thanks Camey.

  19. Duane Scott says:

    We hear blog post after blog post reminding others to be compassionate, etc..

    I have a challenge for you.

    Next week, tell me HOW you put “skin on it”.

    There’s where the real beauty in this message lies.

    Great post.

    • cycleguy says:

      Duane: you make a fair challenge. I can point you to one above (Matt) who has adopted 4 children. I do not have the money to be involved on a monthly basis with Compassion International but i do try to get involved in peoples’ lives, especially the kids in our community, as much as I can. But it is a fair challenge. I will see what I can do for next week. Thanks.

      • Duane Scott says:

        I’m not trying to sound like I’m judging or anything. I had someone do the same to me once. Left me a comment that just said, “Practice what you preach and the world will be a better place.”

        Thought stuck with me. 🙂

        Looking forward to your post…

  20. Pinky says:

    My son is a gay man and has HIV. He has had it for 14 years now and I thank God every day for the drugs that he takes that prolong his life. I have known since he was a small child. I hoped I would be wrong but I wan’t. Noone will ever convince me he wasn’t born gay. He is a wonderful man, he loves God and his church and is very involved with his church and AA. If you would, say a little prayer for him. I would really appreciate it.