Manufactured Compassion or Genuine Love?
Robert Wurtz II
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9 ESV)
|Lifting up your brother while holding back the forces that would destroy him|
There are times when sharing a terrible offense in our lives can be used of God to bring understanding and comfort to the hearer. The details should be vague enough so as not to implicate the person(s), while being true to the story and how God used the situation for his purposes. We should make it clear that we have forgiven and that it is not an occasion of bitterness now. Why? Love never seeks to destroy, but to protect. Sharing offenses anonymously and usefully is not what this article is about. I want to make that abundantly clear from the start.
Yet, there is a vile tendency in the hearts of fallen man that repeats a matter over and over for his or her own selfish purposes, and in the process demonstrates that they are not seeking love with the offender, but are actually separating other close friends. It does not have to be close friends, it can be family members or brothers and sisters in Christ. This is non-love, because love always seeks to put the best construction on events. To repeat a matter that should be being covered, to gain an effect or some design, is a terrible and hurtful sin. It happens on so many different levels in life that it will be impossible to explore all of them here. I wish to examine just enough to help us identify the behavior when we see it, so that we do not do it ourselves, nor allow ourselves to be affected by it when someone is employing the method on us. In other words, don’t be drawn in by this stuff.
Playing the victim
How often have we seen children grow into their teen years and go into rebellion? All their life they have kept a clear record of the wrongs that their parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, etc. have committed– like a diary, to be recalled when useful. Some of these stories are truly horrific, while others may be dramatized or exaggerated to gain effect. Everyone understands that sad stories draw sympathy or compassion and when no other love or attraction exists, this “compassionate love” can often be drawn-out from a person. Again, stories of offenses are many times used to draw compassion, a form of love, from the person being told of the offense. Keep this in mind. In other words, playing the role of a victim will almost always gain loves effect, even if it is only temporary. It is not real love, it is a substitute.
As Christians we are called to forgive folks and to cast their sins behind our backs, as God did our sins. As Christians we shouldn’t even have unforgiven offenses in our possession. As far as using them for selfish ends, they are illegal contraband. Can you imagine God bringing up our offenses over and over again? No. Why? Because the behavior sows discord, and that sin is an abomination to God. This is why Paul said in Ephesians; And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:30-32) As Christians we want God to forgive our sins and not bring them up anymore. Paul is telling us to supply one another with this same type of love. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger and clamour from among you, says Paul. The word ‘clamour’ suggests a cry for attention. Recycling offenses is a sure way to get attention, but it is also a sure way to cause strife and division. All of these things grieve the Holy Spirit. What happens? Instead of covering the offenses, they get recycled over and over again into peoples ears and are never allowed to die. Why? Because they are useful to folks that employ them for their own selfish purposes.
False love through manufactured compassion
Compassion can be manufactured by repeating offenses. It is a false temporal love. When a person falls among thieves and is beaten and robbed, we may see them and have genuine compassion. Or we may see a child starving and feel genuine compassion. Anything that touches our heart can make us feel sympathy or compassion for a person. Human beings understand this concept, though they may not be able to articulate it or identify it. Repeating offenses get a reaction. People know it and some choose to use this phenomena to their advantage and other peoples destruction.
Destroying one relationship to start or mend another
It is commonly known that married children should not repeat their marital problems to their parents. It may get the child compassion from the parents, but it destroys the other spouse in the parents eyes. The conflict may eventually be resolved, but when that spouse comes around they are treated differently by the parents. Why? Because offenses that should be being covered are being repeated and it is causing a separation. I am not talking here about genuine abuse that needs to be stopped, I am talking about a child fishing for compassion by throwing their spouse under the bus. Another similar example is when an adulterous person may seek to lure a potential ‘partner’ by spilling out all kinds of terrible things to them about how bad their spouse is. This strategy manufactures compassion and draws the adulterous couple together in a false love. There is no real cohesive bond there to begin with, so compassion is used as the initial draw. This is why you should never confide in a person of the opposite sex. Why? It leads to affairs. Then the person uses their record of wrongs to manufacture compassion in family and friends in order to justify the affair and God forbid, the eventual divorce.
Compassion as a substitute for true love
How do you know if a person is moving in love or not? Answer; they seek to cover offenses rather than recycle them for selfish gain. This is why so many people only have one friend at a time. Person ‘A’ has a falling out with person ‘B’ and in order to reconcile they have to find a common enemy to roast together (person ‘C’). This is exactly what Herod and Pilate did. They put their hands to Jesus and sacrificed Him together to mend their own fences. They did not love each other. Keep that clear. They would not love Jesus together and all three be friends, so they had to destroy the one to reconcile the two. I suggest that this strategy is used thousands of times a day around the world. How does it work? Find a common enemy and confess together all the offenses and bad things you can think of and stir up a compassion for one another that will bind them together because you really are not moving in love. It is false. It is temporal. What happens? The process has to be continued. To manage that type relationship a new sacrificial victim will be needed each time they come together. There is no new thing under the Sun.
Where the problem lies
Everyone in the world has offended somebody. Everyone in the world has been offended. For Christians we are told that love does not keep score. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” These four things are utterly essential for peace and tranquility in relationships. If a person is not self-seeking they will not need their record of wrongs to be used for their selfish ends. If they are not easily angered they will not have a list to begin with. Being rude to people starts the process of an offense that can then be recycled over and over again. But people that really love one another do not need to roast someone to make mends with someone else. They can love person ‘A’ and person ‘B’ and person ‘C’ all at the same time. Not as we see so often, when person ‘B’ and ‘C’ are talking, ‘A’ is getting roasted. God forbid! We are called to love and love in reality. If a man or woman loves their spouse they will cover the offense, not tell the whole world. If they don’t love, they will tell whomever they can to manufacture the compassion they need in place of the love they don’t have. Selah.