When Plans Change: Saying Yes to Compassion

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (Mark 6:34)

Sometimes our plans get changed no matter what we do. Other times we have choice: Will I stick to my plan or change course for this other person? It takes wisdom to know which choice to make. How do you decide? For Jesus, the answer in this case was summed up in a word: compassion.

plans_350Compassion is letting another person’s need penetrate your heart, your emotions. Jesus and the disciples needed rest – and made a plan to get it. The people needed to be taught by a shepherd. Motivated by compassion, Jesus put the needs of the crowd above his own need – and above the plans of his tired disciples.

Whether the wisest choice is to stick to the plan or throw it away, compassion is almost always the right motive and Jesus-like servanthood is always the right response for those who want to live like him.

Think: How easy is it for you to feel compassion for people in need? Has genuine compassion ever caused you to change your plans to help someone else out? Has false compassion (or selfish, false guilt) ever caused you to change your plans for someone in an inappropriate way? How can you tell the difference?

Pray: Ask your compassionate God to help you to feel appropriate compassion for people in need and to be willing to change your plans – or stick to them – to serve those people.

Do: Pay attention to your heart’s response to people in need this week and remind your heart to motivated by compassion for those who are hurting or lost.