Day One – Compassion or Enabling?

Today’s Scripture – John 5:1-15

This week’s story takes us on a quest to explore the difference between compassion and enablement. Jesus modeled it well for us.

The setting is the pool of Bethesda, located in Jerusalem. It was a gathering place for the lame, paralyzed, and blind. John tells how, at random times, an angel would come and stir up the waters in the pool. The first person to make it into the pool of troubled waters would be cured of his ailment.

One man had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying by the pool, He asked, “Do you want to get well?” Was this a trick question? If the man answered “yes,” Jesus could have challenged him about not getting into the pool. If he answered “no,” he would have revealed his lack of motivation to change. So, he opted for a safe excuse: “I have no one to help me into the pool.”

Despite the man’s apparent lack of motivation, Jesus showed compassion by healing him on the spot. But, He also showed firmness when He instructed the man to pick up his mat and get moving. Jesus saw a need for change deeper than simply healing the man’s physical malady.

I think this is going to be an interesting quest.

  • How do you differentiate between showing compassion to someone and enabling them?
  • How can an “enabling” relationship be stopped or changed? What advice would you give someone who is in an enabling relationship?