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It’s a Pity There’s Not More Compassion

american-pickersThere’s a show on History (you know, used to be the History Channel) called American Pickers. Now, I honestly don’t watch it all the time, but it is very entertaining.

I mean, just listen to the premise: two guys drive around in a van combing through barns, garages, and warehouses looking for treasures in a sea of hoarded items.

Okay, it doesn’t sound that amazing, but what makes it so great are the two guys who are so passionate and excited about what they’re looking for. They never know what they’ll find or even what they’re looking for entirely, but they love the thrill of finding that special treasure and bargaining with the owner to part with it.

I want to be more like this–but about people. I think there’s too much pity in the world and not enough compassion. We pity people for their hard childhood, their presently hard circumstances, their poor decisions… That’s not even mentioning that we often pity ourselves for much the same reasons.

These guys are passionate about seeing things not as they are currently or even what they were used for 50-100 years ago. It’s all about how these items can be cleaned up, repurposed, and made useful again. Their risks don’t always pay off, but it never dampens their enthusiasm.

Pity can’t do that. Pity won’t do that–because pity won’t even try.

God didn’t send us Jesus because He pitied us, but because He was passionate about us. Jesus didn’t heal, forgive, restore, and deliver out of pity, but because He had compassion and it always moved Him to change their lives. The more they hung around Him, the more their lives changed.

Likewise, Jesus isn’t building a Church that will pity the poor, blinded, broken, and desperate. We need to be passionate about how God sees them and us, never settling for a lesser vision.

  • Pity says “Don’t expect too much. We know it’s been really hard.”
  • Compassion says, “Get up! Take up your mat and walk.”
  • Pity says “I’ll just try to make you comfortable down there.”
  • Compassion says “There’s no reason you can’t come up here!”

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t change anyone and I won’t try. God has to do that, but He has a way of using those with hearts after Him. We get to be conduits of grace.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion… –Colossians 3:12

I’m tired of pitying a broken world full of hurting people. I want God’s compassion alive inside me to go out and find the treasures on the street corners, the grocery stores, the office buildings–and I want to allow God to touch my eyes so that I can see them the way He does.

What do you think about this? Care to add others to the list of pity says/compassion says?

This is a reworking of a post from 2010


  1. Excellent article! So often we confuse pity and compassion. I also want to live in a way to view people how God does and not how they are currently! My life was totally changed because some wonderful people saw me as the treasured possession of God that I really was rather then the mess I was in. I pray God would use and guide us with hearts of compassion!

    • Thanks so much, Carrie. So thankful for the people in my own life who have loved and accepted me and shown me God’s love. Thanks again.

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