Doing What Others Won't

Christianity should spread the joy of righteous love, compassion, and consideration for others. —Johnny Cash 

Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. —Colossians 3:12–13 NLT 

From the outset of his career, Johnny Cash cut a path that often ran contrary to prevailing attitudes. He wasn’t afraid to swim against the current. Or to set a higher standard for himself and others. Or to espouse values that seemed old-fashioned or passé. 

In this single sentence, he called himself, and all believers, to a lifestyle marked by three qualities that are in short supply in our culture. He recognized that these three qualities will set Christians apart from the crowd and make us vulnerable to the slings and arrows of those who don’t share our priorities. But he also understood the life-changing difference these qualities can make in other people’s lives. 

Righteous love is unselfish. It seeks the best for others—not for us. It’s sacrificial. It takes us out of our comfort zones. It prompts us to give up our time, resources, attention, and energy for the sake of someone else, with no thought of repayment. Righteous love is unconditional. It doesn’t place demands on people. It isn’t given and taken away based on our whims and moods. Righteous love makes a powerful impact because it lets people know that they are worthy of love, just as they are—from us, and from the God we serve. 

Compassion goes beyond recognizing that people are hurting or in need. Compassion is that tweaking of our conscience that won’t stop until we take their hurt or need personally. Until we involve ourselves in their lives. Until their well-being becomes our well-being. Mere concern is taking a quick look at a problem and saying, “Someone needs to do something about this.” Compassion is staring long and hard at a problem and saying, “I need to do something about this.” 

Consideration puts us in other people’s shoes. It compels us to examine other people’s feelings, perspectives, experiences, and opinions. We may not agree with them, but we need to understand the role these factors play in shaping other people’s lives. Being considerate means letting go of the competitive urge to win an argument or humiliate an opponent. A considerate spirit defuses tension and eases combative urges. 

There’s nothing easy or natural about embracing a spirit of righteous love, compassion, and consideration. But if we journey down this road less traveled, as Johnny Cash encourages, we’ll find that we have a surprising number of opportunities to make real differences in other people’s lives. We’ll also find that we earn the benefit of the doubt in other areas. When people see that we have their best interests in mind, they’ll be more likely to listen to us, even when the things we say are hard to hear. 

More importantly, if we will commit to pursuing these qualities, we will give people an opportunity to see Christ at work in us. A genuinely loving, compassionate, and considerate attitude toward other people will open doors in ways we can’t begin to imagine. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for calling Your people to a higher standard of love, compassion, and consideration. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to stand apart from the crowd while at the same time making a difference in people’s lives. Help me rise to the challenge. Let Your love and compassion flow through me. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

This is an excerpt from Walking the Line: 90 Devotions of Truth and Hope Based on the Faith of Johnny Cash a new devotional now available on Shop all books, journals, and devotions from DaySpring here.