Once again, trying to process thoughts. Hope it makes sense, and is helpful to both you and me.
#1: What is compassion?
According to Webster's, compassion is a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Pretty good description. I would add that when we desire to alleviate the distress, we expect nothing in return.
Being compassionate requires that we be aware of those around us, and not be blinded by our own pride or selfish agenda. And not just being aware, but longing to do anything to help those in need. This includes people who may talk bad about you, or who have caused you pain in the past. I believe the biggest enemy of compassion is selfishness. When we are selfish, we only care about ourselves and that we are comfortable. We are too concerned with doing what we want to do that we won't take the time to help a stranger, or even a friend. For those of us who are Christians, we know that Christ felt compassion for the lost-- stranger, friend and foe ((Mark 6:34). This leads us to the next question...
#2: Can you call yourself a follower of Christ, and not have compassion for others?
You can't pick and choose those for whom you have compassion. If you have compassion within you, you have it, and if not, ask the Lord for it. I believe we all have compassion within us, we just don't all allow it to come forth because we are too prideful at times. I do not believe you can pick and choose whom you will have compassion for, and then call yourself a compassionate person. Christ had compassion for everyone. I can't think of anywhere in the Bible that specifically says he had compassion on everybody, including the Pharisees, but I'd like to believe that he did despite how much they disliked him and how many times he stumped them with his wisdom. They were lost-- sheep without a shepherd, and, as I said before, Christ had compassion for those who were lost. As Christians, we are called to be like Christ, and with that comes compassion for others, especially those who are in need.
Now I say that I believe we all have compassion somewhere within us, but thanks to certain people in my life, and my skeptic side, I feel that some people are just more compassionate than others. Or, I wonder, is it just that we show it in different ways? I know people who are Christians that sometimes I wonder if they have an ounce of compassion in them. I'm not talking about "Christians." I'm talking about people who follow Christ, and love the Lord and His will. Yet, still I wonder, do they have any compassion in them? And how does that affect their walk?
I sometimes find myself not wanting to have compassion for certain people, but like I said, you can't pick and choose. It frustrates me, but I can't help but have compassion for them. I wonder if Christ ever felt that way towards the Pharisees.
I consider myself a compassionate, sensitive person, but I also know that I have a lot more growing to do. I think the best way to go about it is to ask the Lord to break our hearts for what breaks His-- to break down our pride and selfishness that we might get ourselves out of the way and allow Him to step in. We can ask the Lord to show us compassion that we might learn how to show it to others. So many people in this world have been hurt by Christians, or the Church, because of our lack of compassion towards them (homosexuals, muslims, Hollywood, people who've had abortions, other denominations, etc). Christ would have compassion, and would open his arms to these people, so why won't we?
As always, please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on the topic. I'd love to hear them because I'm sure there's so much more to it.