A police officer who had been at many traffic accidents over the years, some with very severe injuries, wrote that at the scene of these accidents three groups of people would show up, each with a different response toward those involved in the accident.
The first group is the bystanders and onlookers. They are curious and watch to see what happens but have little active involvement. The second group is the police officers, of whom he was one, whose response was to investigate the cause of the accident, assign blame, and give out appropriate warnings and punishments.
The third group is the paramedics. They are the people usually most welcomed by those involved in the accident. They could care less whose fault the accident was and they did not engage in lecturing about bad driving habits. Their response was to help those who were hurt. They bandaged wounds, freed trapped people, and gave words of encouragement.
When it comes to reaching the lost and hurting in our world, we’re going to be in one of these three groups. We will be uninvolved and let others do the work. Or we will condemn people for their foolish behavior saying things like, “It’s your own fault that you’re in this mess. If you had been going to church and doing like you should this never would have happened!” Or we will be praying for and concentrating on helping and showing compassion to them.
Three groups – one is uninvolved, one is assigning blame and assessing punishment, and one is helping the hurting. Which group are you in? Much of the church is responding to the lost and hurting like the police officer instead of the paramedics. In Jesus’ day, this is what the Pharisees and teachers of the law did. They were more interested in condemning and criticizing sinners than in showing compassion. The Parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son focus on our need to show compassion rather that blaming or condemning.
I leave you with a challenge: will you pray for those who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior in your life? Maybe you’ve been praying for them for years- don’t give up! And for those who are hurting, will you ask God to show you ways to show care and compassion towards them? That we would be more like the paramedics, and less like the onlookers and police officers, towards those around us.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.