"Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." ~Philippians 2:3,4 The Message
The more I meditate on the garment of compassion, the more I see the rippling effect it can have in all of my relationships. This brings me to the next section of the passage. "Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you."
Gulp ~ this is where the rubber meets the road. Now it's getting specific. I will start with being "even-tempered". I have to giggle because not two minutes ago, I was yelling at the dog to be quiet so I could concentrate. Hmm... That aside, I think that when we are clothed in compassion and the other four garments mentioned yesterday (kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline) are in place, it is less tempting to fly off the handle at any little thing. (Sorry I yelled at you, Scout!) Hopefully, we become more thoughtful and less reactive in how we respond to people and circumstances (and dogs!). I know from experience that when I am me-focused, or when I am dealing with a festering wound, I am much more likely to react harshly.
How many of us can say we are "content with second place"? Who likes to play second fiddle? Who is content with letting someone else have the limelight, even if it is undeserved? The person clothed in compassion, that's who. The person who regards the garments of kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline more than the glory of being the winner. Again, if I am focused on myself and I lose...ouch. It doesn't feel so good. But if I can put others before myself and they walk away with the prize, I can share in the celebration.
Another sign that a person is clothed in compassion is the desire and ability to forgive quickly and completely. This means no grudges, no retaliations, no resentments. It requires giving a clean slate to the person who has hurt or offended you, just like the one God gives to each of us. Only a compassionate person can pull this one off. Again, I see I have so much to learn.
When I think about it, my dog is a much better example of the qualities in this passage than I am. A loyal companion, he daily lives out compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline (well, maybe not so much), forgiveness, and even-temperedness. Time for me to go play with my dog, and learn from his examples.
"Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness, or else forgiving one another." ~Jean Paul Richter
"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet." ~Colette