Have you ever looked at an infant and thought to yourself, “Wow, this sweet baby has a clean slate, a chance to become someone incredible, a fresh start.” While admiring an adorable infant, those are the thoughts that cross my mind.
“You have a clean slate, sweet baby. Make the most of who you can be, love without boundaries and live without prejudice.”
Each new life brought into the world has been born with innocence; they are a blank canvas, an innocent heart and sponges to our teachings.
One of the greatest teachings we can share with these innocent hearts is that of compassion, especially at a young age.
Jesus was the perfect teacher, and I am so thankful that he told stories when delivering a message that he wanted to make sure was heard and understood.
One of my favorite stories that he told is the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus was answering a question asked by an expert in the law about whom he should consider a neighbor, and Jesus told him the story about a man who was beaten, stripped of his things and left for dead; two people walked right by the injured man, making sure to cross on the other side of the street. They did not want to get involved in the situation. But a Samaritan “took pity on him” (v. 33) and showed compassion to this man. It’s important to know that in Jesus’ time, Samaritans were looked down upon by experts of the Jewish law, so the fact that Jesus pointed out this compassion delivered by a Samaritan tells us that he expects all of us to show compassion to one another.
When you watch small children, you can see that compassion is built into their hearts. Of course toddlers cry about sharing their toys or have a tantrum if someone goes down the slide before them, but if they see another child is hurt, or sad, or angry, they almost always show them compassion. “Are you ok? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” I’ve watched as toddlers hug one another in comfort, or turn to their parent for help in soothing the upset child. Rarely have I witnessed a child with a wicked nature that wasn’t taught to them.
I have two children (now 11 and 9 years old) and I have worked in pediatrics for the last 19 years. I have witnessed it: Children are born with compassion. Why do you think Jesus tells us to seek a childlike heart? Because they are born with a desire to love. Young children don’t see different skin color, they see a friend who may need a hug. Toddlers don’t see a different working class, they see an adult who might want to play with them.
Born innocent. We all started off that way. We are taught, possibly directly but usually indirectly, that there is a difference between ourselves and another person. Different skin color, different ethnicity, different working class, different religion. And the media doesn’t help that. The media loves to stir the pot, create a fuss and draw lines between hearts that were originally blind to boundaries.
It is our job to continually teach and protect the compassion that is within our children when they are born.
Don’t stop teaching them how to love with compassion. They were born with it, it’s our job to help it flourish.
Father God, thank you for your perfect teaching. I am grateful beyond words to know that you are a God of love and compassion. I know there have been times in my life when compassion was shown to me, and I am thankful for those moments in my life. Thank you for setting the standard and allowing Jesus to be the example of what it means to have compassion for others. Father, I pray that you help open my heart to others and allow me the opportunities to show compassion so that my example may be observed by a younger generation. Father, I ask that you guard my heart as I go after this godly characteristic. It’s in your son’s precious name, amen.