Written by Ronnica at Ignorant Historian
Week by week, we've been walking through Women's Ministry in the Local Church by J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt. This week we're on chapter 6, "1 Timothy 3:11--Compassion."
1 Timothy 3:11 says, "Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things." This is the NASU translation. Your translation may say "their wives" instead, as the word is the same in the Greek. It doesn't matter if Paul specifically is referring to the deacon's wives or to all women in the church; we should all aspire to these things, regardless of our position in the church.
I think most churches are good at exercising compassion materially towards others in the church (at least in some regards), and it's usually the women leading the way. It's often easier to focus on the physical needs than the spiritual, but both are crucial. We shouldn't balk when someone struggles go beyond needing someone to watch their kids or prepare a meal for them. And this compassionate care shouldn't stop at the church's doors...we should be seeking ways to love those who are hurting in our communities.
In this chapter Susan Hunt makes some great points. First, I love that she reminds us that we need to be in submission to God and our church elders even when we're seeking to do good. Our intentions may be good, but "the right thing done the wrong way is not right" (p. 89). Another point she makes is that we need to remind ourselves that we aren't exercising compassion because it will gain favor from God. While we should seek to please God, we aren't working to make God love us more.
I know I don't do enough to show compassion to others. Sometimes there just doesn't seem time and energy...but that shouldn't always be the reason to say, "no." Susan Hunt puts it well: "Caring for hurting people will always require more strength and grace than we possess" (p. 93).
Given all the needs we see everyday, how do you decide which needs to meet? Do you struggle with showing compassion?