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Pity or Compassion?

There’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’ve decided 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.

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 God does.

I hope somebody’s with me today! What do you think? Care to add others to the list of pity says/compassion says?

36 Comments

  1. With you for sure! Growing up my family owned an antique business so I really “get” this illustration. Pity is not empowering…Pity is crippling.
    Michael recently posted..Brush Against My FaceMy Profile

    • Oh that’s cool. I think it’s so fun to walk through an antique store and see the history--fascinating. I agree with you about pity--thanks Michael.

  2. Pity says, “Sorry you are hungry.” Compassion says, “Here let me get you something to eat.” There are more! Love this post Jason! Too, too many are living lives of pity.
    Bill (cycleguy) recently posted..Pursuing WorshipMy Profile

    • That’s a great one. Thank you, Bill.

  3. I looked them up. Pity is sorrow or sympathy, but compassion is sympathy “with a desire to alleviate” the cause of the sorrowful circumstance. So, pity may say, “I’m so sorry about your circumstance.” But compassion says, “I’m sorry about your circumstance, but there’s hope! There’s a way out!” The hope is the key.
    Sarah Salter recently posted..The Stick in Your HandMy Profile

    • And in God, it’s a hope that doesn’t disappoint because it’s hard-won. Thanks Sarah.

  4. Love these thoughts! Pity is not an expression of love. Compassion is love in action.
    Dusty Rayburn recently posted..A Song of DegreesMy Profile

    • Now we just have to live it! Thanks Dusty.

  5. I’m with ya!! (Hey look, I left a comment..haha) Great post, Jason.

    • I’m glad Ginny! Thanks so much. 🙂

  6. *Pity says “I can’t visit the sick because I am too sensitive to their plight, I can’t bear to see them like that.”
    *Compassion says “I want to be here right by your side, helping you to live the best that you can!”

    Great post.
    Helen recently posted..WIthout WindowsMy Profile

    • Love that, Helen. Thank you.

  7. I definitely agree. What I am slowly learning though is that although I have “seen the light” and see things from a different place, I wasn’t in that place 5 years ago and many others are not in that place or ready now.
    Susie @newdaynewlesson recently posted..If You Want To Know Your Strengths And Weaknesses- Just Ask Your FriendsMy Profile

    • That’s the truth. We are not all in the same place, but we can lead by example. No one can be told to be compassionate, it has to derive from a desire within. Great thoughts. Thank you, Susie!

      • I think it also helps to remind yourself how you felt when you were in a different place and people tried to tell you things. If we remember what it felt like being on the other end, we might be less likely to “judge”.
        Susie @newdaynewlesson recently posted..If You Want To Know Your Strengths And Weaknesses- Just Ask Your FriendsMy Profile

        • That also points to why Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father do. He knew where His compassion would be accepted and responded to. Interesting points! Thanks Susie.

  8. Pity says: “You don’t measure up (ie, you suck)”
    Compassion says: “You are dearly loved, you are mine.”

    A great exercise bro’…thanks!

    • That’s a great one. Thanks Jay!

  9. I want to be more compassionate and I do ask God to let me see the world as He sees it. I hope I recognize when He does allow me to see as He does. I don’t want to miss those times.

    Good post 🙂
    David Knapp recently posted..How To Store Treasure In HeavenMy Profile

    • If only it were impossible to miss them, right? How helpful would that be! Thanks David. I want to see like He does too.

  10. I love this, Jason. I’m right there with you.

    I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately. Social justice seems to be in vogue these days in the world. But they can only address the symptoms. As the body of Christ we can address the disease which is the disconnect in understanding the ones hurting are worthy of more than pity, they deserve to know how they are as children of God. Do we want to give charity or see lives transformed?
    Tony Alicea recently posted..Reborn All Over AgainMy Profile

    • Thanks Tony. I do believe some of these charities need to do what they’re doing and we need to support them--even for the simple fact that without them some of the poorest in the world would die before ever knowing anything different. We can give prayerfully and expectantly, knowing that God is going to produce something great out of it. And those around us will hopefully experience that deeper compassion of God as we respond to His love. Great thoughts. Thanks again.

  11. awesome post! So true…pity is the easy choice -- compassion takes commitment.
    mo recently posted..134- Hard JusticeMy Profile

    • Thanks Mo. I totally agree--commitment and lots of grace…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jason Stasyszen - Are we expressing pity or compassion? New post today on Connecting to Impact http://ow.ly/1r8xvc
  2. Sarah Salter - RT @br8kthru Are we expressing pity or compassion? New post today on Connecting to Impact http://ow.ly/1r8xvc
  3. Wendy G - RT @br8kthru Are we expressing pity or compassion? New post today on Connecting to Impact http://ow.ly/1r8xvc
  4. Glynn Young - Pity or Compassion, new post by @br8kthru at Connecting to Impact. http://bit.ly/aGqSQh
  5. Jason Stasyszen - RT @gyoung9751: Pity or Compassion, new post by @br8kthru at Connecting to Impact. http://bit.ly/aGqSQh <<thanks Glynn!
  6. Gerald Barrett - RT @gyoung9751: Pity or Compassion, new post by @br8kthru at Connecting to Impact. http://bit.ly/aGqSQh
  7. Dusty Rayburn - RT @br8kthru: Pity or Compassion? http://bit.ly/dkiupz
  8. Jason Stasyszen - RT @dlrayburn: RT @br8kthru: Pity or Compassion? http://bit.ly/dkiupz <<thanks Dusty.
  9. Jason Stasyszen - I'm tired of pity. I'd rather have compassion. New post today on Connecting to Impact http://ow.ly/2TyqK
  10. Peter Pollock - RT @br8kthru: I'm tired of pity. I'd rather have compassion. New post today on Connecting to Impact http://ow.ly/2TyqK
  11. MakeADifferenceToOne - RT @br8kthru: I'm tired of pity. I'd rather have compassion. New post today on Connecting to Impact http://ow.ly/2TyqK // Good…
  12. Jason Stasyszen - New Blog Post: Pity or Compassion? http://ow.ly/19rYat
  13. Helenatrandom - RT @br8kthru: Pity or Compassion? http://bit.ly/dkiupz
  14. Susie - RT @Helenatrandom: RT @br8kthru: Pity or Compassion? http://bit.ly/dkiupz > interesting thoughts

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