More Than Machines

More Than Machines

“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

Proverbs 31:20


I may be the worst person to write on this subject.


Or I may be the best depending on how you look at it.  When someone writes from a platform of expertise, there is a risk of making hard things sound easy.  I will not be in danger of doing that today.    Allow me to convince you.

I dropped my girls off to school this morning and as we prayed in the car, I asked for God’s wisdom in writing today, among other school-related requests.  Perhaps I asked with more fervency than usual because one of my daughters asked afterwards:


“Are you concerned about your writing?”

“Well, in the series we’re doing, I need to write about something that is not really my strong suit in life.”

“What are you writing about?”



She snickered.  They all did, actually.


I told you.  In case you’re not convinced:  For those who were raised in the church, you may be familiar with spiritual gifts inventories.  (Though not the best way to discover spiritual gifts, it is one means of helping us identify how God has uniquely equipped us to strengthen the Church.)

While my artsy friends might chafe and run in horror at taking a test to determine such things, my structured little soul welcomed with glee the check boxes and forms that catalogued me by type and gratified my tidy tendencies.  I first took that test around the age of 13 and in the area of Compassion, I scored…. wait for it… zero.  Seriously.  Then, a number of years later, I took the test again and landed a whopping score of “2”.  Let’s just say that no one has ever asked me to come speak on Compassion.

Though I was fully aware of my stumpy compassion score, I took comfort in my strengths throughout my young adult years and wasn’t really alerted to my need for change until about a decade ago.  I found myself irritated one day at a woman’s circumstances and how much time, grace and help it required.  I argued to myself, Doesn’t she realize that I have a Bible study to lead, seminars to write and church ministries to organize?  In the time it took for my indignant mind to spew that list, God had convicted my tin heart:

If, in all my doing and managing and excelling, I have no time for compassion,

 I am deficient as a Christian woman.

You see, here’s the rub:  Though God has equipped me with different gifts that I am employing to build up the Church, I’m not off the hook in regards to compassion.  None of us are.  You see, though some people are uniquely endowed with great measures of it (Romans 12:8) to fulfill God’s purposes for their lifetime (Eph. 2:10), compassion is one of those attitudes and practices that we are all called to.  (Deut. 15:11, Rom. 12:13, James 1:27) As well, since our great goal in life is to be like Jesus and represent Him accurately to the world, we can’t very well neglect one of His trademark attributes, now can we?  (Matt. 14:14, Mark 6:34, Luke 7:13)

It should come as no surprise then that this quality is included in Proverbs 31.  Our verse says of the Super Wife:

“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

The singular hand opening is a clear picture of our compassion in the form of generosity to those who are in material need.  The plural hands extending illustrate the expending of effort to practically help those who are in humble circumstances, vulnerable to oppression and in need of deliverance from trouble.

It’s a good thing a few of these tender qualities are included in Proverbs 31 or we could be tempted to conclude, in our pursuit of diligence, excellence & strength, that the Super Wife is a machine.  Charles Bridges says that “Clever and managing minds are often deficient in the softer graces.”  Ouch.  If Mr. Bridges hadn’t departed for Heaven long ago, I’d wonder if he had been spying on me.

Some of you don’t ever have to worry about this struggle because you’re so sweet and compassionate you leave me despairing of my own condition after a passing conversation.  But some of us simply need to make intentional choices to cultivate and extend this treasured quality of compassion; all the while falling on God’s grace to change our hearts so we grow more like Him in this area.

If you are modeling this compassion well, please keep leading the way – I need your help.   And for those of you who are recovering ministry machines like me, let’s ensure that no matter how engaged our hands are with family, home, health, preparation, study or enterprise, they are never too full to extend and open to the poor and oppressed.



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