Disgust or Compassion?
Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river . . . She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Exodus 2:5-6
When my children were babies and needed their diapers changed, I may not have liked the job, but I understood how helpless they were and so, in my love for them, I cared for them. To be a parent is to love one’s children, cleaning up the vomit, even though it’s disgusting. When my children are in need, I respond with compassion because I love them.
When, however, I encounter a severely mentally adult in jail who messes himself like a baby, my natural response isn’t compassion. When I work with an addicted patient in clinic who refuses my treatment recommendations and instead repeatedly makes terrible choices, my impulsive response isn’t love. My natural response in these situations is disgust, irritation, and revulsion. When I take time to think about it though, I remember that God loved me and that he used people who also loved me, even when I was making terrible choices – even when I was the one who’s behavior was revolting.
Compassion is the theme illustrated in today’s passage. In the story, the Egyptian Pharaoh commanded that all males born to the Hebrews be drown in the Nile River. One Hebrew woman concealed her son by placing him in a basket and hiding him in the reeds of the river. The daughter of Pharaoh just happened along, finding the baby. As daughter of the Pharaoh, she had some prejudice against the Israelites, but when she saw the helpless, crying baby, she had compassion, saving him. Thus began the story of Moses.
The Pharaoh’s daughter is a picture of Christ and what he’s done for us. Though we were helpless, Jesus took compassion on us, saving us from our fate. As he’s loved us, so we too, must love others, particularly those who appear helpless and hopeless. This compassion comes at a personal cost, which is why we often avoid it. The Pharaoh’s daughter likely risked the wrath of her father. Jesus died on a cross. Compassion costs us something and so, we’d rather just walk away, but as followers of Christ, we must love others as he’s loved us – even those who appear unlovable. We all know those around us who’re in desperate need. It is our response to them that proves whether we truly follow Christ or if we’re just impostors who call ourselves Christians.