Devotion 3 in the series Leaving a Legacy: Psalm 103:8-13

How to Leave a Tender Legacy of Compassion

Tom hadn’t seen a homeless man on his way to work in five years. But on this day, God put a particular man in Tom’s path and placed on Tom’s heart compassion for this man who needed practical help. Our children are watching. Our world is watching. Our hearts ache to share the love of Jesus. How can we leave a tender legacy of compassion?

Caucasian man with gray hair, gray ball cap, gray coat, by gray wall, looking downtrodden

Tom was on his way to work, driving down a busy road, thinking of all he had to get done at the office that day. He saw a scruffy-looking older gentleman walking down the sidewalk and was embarrassed for him, because with every step the man took, he had to hike up his too-large pants . . . and he wasn’t wearing any underwear.

“What a sight!” Tom recalls, chuckling. “With every step, he was almost mooning the passing drivers.”

Better minds than mine have evaluated the best ways to reach out to people who are homeless. Prevailing philosophies can tell you whether or not you should give them money, stop and talk, or buy them a cup of coffee.

None of that matters when God nudges your heart.

“I remember thinking, ‘This guy needs a belt,’ and my next thought was, ‘I have a belt!'”

Tom reasoned that he was wearing a belt he could easily replace and that work could wait for a few minutes. He had a $5 bill in his wallet. So he turned around and went back to find the man. By then, the man was sitting on a retaining wall on a corner, and Tom could easily pause without stopping traffic. So he slipped off his belt and rolled it up. He put the money with it, lowered his window, got the man’s attention, and tossed the belt to him. The man gave him a big smile and said, “Thanks! God bless you!”

Once Tom got to work, he had to hike up his own pants all morning. At lunchtime, he went to the store and bought himself a belt.

Interacting with strangers who are down on their luck is not something that comes naturally to Tom. “But the Lord had lined up everything so that I couldn’t refuse.”

“I haven’t seen another homeless person on my way to work since then. That was the only time in over 5 years.”

Five years. But on this day, God put the man in Tom’s path and placed on Tom’s heart compassion for this man who needed something practical: a belt.

Genuine compassion leads to action.

“Now when I see a homeless person asking for money, it isn’t difficult to help them. It was the gift that keeps on giving!”

God’s compassion for us compelled Him to allow his Son to be crucified as a substitute for us. Because genuine compassion leads to action.

The question pierces: Am I leaving a legacy of compassion?

Digging into God’s Word: God Shows Compassion

As you read these verses in Psalm 103, consider the fruits of God’s compassion for us.

Psalm 103:8-13 (ESV)

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

God’s compassion for us drives Him to forgive us–to remove our sins as far as the east is from the west.

Jesus Shows Compassion

Compassion wasn’t something Jesus tacked on to His to-do list or checked off during His week. It flowed so naturally from Him that it led Him to heal, reach out, and rescue. Take Matthew 5 (ESV, emphasis mine):

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Digging Deeper: Am I Leaving a Legacy of Compassion?

Cherish this time with the Lord. Reflect on or journal about the following questions, listening for what God has to say to you.

1. How has God shown compassion to you? Consider this question for a few minutes. Let memories of God’s care come to mind. I’m hoping you are smiling, and I wonder if it might be a wistful smile. Perhaps, at times, you received compassion amidst self-inflicted problems. And yet, God had compassion on you and saw you through the situation.

2. Thank God that in His compassion for us, He sent us a Savior. We are scruffy-looking, unkempt sinners, and yet God made a plan to redeem us. He stayed faithful to that plan. He puts His arm around you, with His finger tilts your chin toward His face, and says, “I love you.”

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 ESV)

3. Who in your life would be blessed by compassion from you? This might be someone you love dearly and are very close to. It could also be someone like the man Tom drove by–someone who is different from you, perhaps someone not as easy or as comfortable to reach out to. In either case, listen for what God brings to mind as a way to show compassion to this person.

4. Continue memorizing Psalm 103 with me. If you’re behind, no worries. I am a few verses behind, too! This week, let’s catch up and add verses 11 to 14:

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

5. If you want, sing with or listen to these songs, and contemplate how they relate to leaving a legacy of compassion.

Beautiful Things (Gungor)

From the Inside Out (Hillsong)

Give Me Your Eyes (Brandon Heath)


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This marks the third devotion in our series on Leaving a Legacy. We have looked at leaving a legacy of forgiveness and leaving a legacy of justice for the oppressed. 

In this series, we are

  1. meditating on Psalm 103, where we see the characteristics of God,
  2. discovering how Jesus illustrated those same characteristics, and
  3. evaluating whether the legacy we are leaving is one that flows from God.

Find all of the devotions in the series Leaving a Legacy here: Leaving a Legacy

Find Past Devotions from other series on the website under the Devotions menu or at

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