Because of expected ice storm on Sunday January 9, only 8:30 worship will take place onsite.

May 23, 2024

A Pastoral Word. . . Compassionate Crocs

Pastor Kevin Freeman

May 23, 2024
If you were being chased by a pack of angry, feral dogs, and your only means of escape was to jump into a crocodile-infested river, what would you do? This hypothetical situation became quite real, not for a person but for a dog in India. With little time to calculate risks, the dog plunged into the waters of the Savitri River to flee the canine assailants but quickly found itself surrounded by three big crocs. These fierce reptiles can reach lengths of eighteen feet, and they are known both for their healthy appetites and non-discriminating palates. They are a variety known as muggers, and you might expect that the dog was about to be mugged.

Yet the pup lived! The crocodiles surprised witnesses by protecting the dog and gently guiding it to a safe bank. Their snouts even touched the dog to nudge it in the right direction. Why did the dog receive assistance instead of becoming sustenance? Scientists do not know, but they suspect “emotional empathy” was at work. Despite their differences, the crocodiles could understand the plight of the dog and acted to help it. If the reptiles had recently eaten and were merely not hungry, they still would have been indifferent to the dog, but they stepped – er, swam – in to assist the dog in a time of need.

I daresay that we can do even better than the crocodiles. Their behavioral fluke can be our daily habit. In truth, many suffer around us, yet we remain unconcerned and indifferent, which sounds a bit cold and reptilian. Even expressions of sympathy without action seem like crocodile tears (you had to know that was coming). In Paul’s letter to the Colossian believers, we find these words:

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14 ESV).

Compassion is an act that goes beyond sympathy and empathy. It literally means to “suffer with.” Because of our new nature in Christ, we can display compassion toward others. This is because Jesus – a Man of suffering – came to suffer for us to bring us into right relationship with God. He came to us “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), reminding us that our message must be paired with mercy.

What opportunities exist for you to show compassion to someone else? It may be a believer, or it could be someone you pray will one day become your brother or sister in Christ. How can you express the grace and truth of Jesus to them today?

Your partner in ministry,
Kevin Freeman

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