A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get out by himself. A feeler came along and said, ’I really feel for you down there.’ A thinker walked by and said, ‘It’s illogical that someone would fall down there.’ A Pharisee said, ‘Only bad people fall into pits, you know.’ A self-pitying person said, ‘You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit!’ A preacher said, ‘You deserve to fall into a pit.’ A Christian Scientist said, ‘The pit is all in your head.’ A psychologist said, ‘Your mother and father are to blame for your being in that pit.’ An optimist said, ‘Things could be worse.’ A pessimist said, ‘Things will get worse.’ A Christian came along, took him by the hand, and lifted him out of the pit.
I don’t know who penned those words. They were taken from a poem entitled The Pit, whose author is unknown to me. Nevertheless, I think the writer had an interesting perspective in noting the difference between professed compassion for others and genuine concern. The world is filled with people who claim to care about the person in a pit, but until someone actually reaches down and helps them out, they haven’t made a difference in that person’s life. It sounds similar to the parable Jesus taught on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), when the priest and the Levite refused to help a man near death on the side of the road. They “passed by on the other side” because they did not want to be burdened with the inconvenience of caring for others. By contrast, a Samaritan came upon the same scene yet responded in “compassion” because of his genuine love for others. This was especially remarkable since the Jews and Samaritans despised one another as a whole (John 4:9). Yet this did not keep the Samaritan from having pity on a wounded soul. After highlighting the man’s godly character, Jesus told His audience to “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). God wants His people to “do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).
This is another great lesson to learn from The Pit. People need our help, especially spiritually. It is not enough to feel bad for those whose lives are ravaged by sin. That concern alone does not help them out of the pit. We must actually reach down (in love and pity) and give them a chance to crawl out by extending the gospel to them. Paul explained it this way, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:13-14, 17). God has provided a way for all mankind to be saved from sin by hearing and obeying the gospel (1:16). However, this message must be taught from God’s inspired word if sinners are to learn it. This is what Paul meant when he said God “has in due time manifested His word through preaching” (Titus 1:3). When men are in error, they need someone to take them aside and explain the way of God more accurately to them (Acts 18:26). W may feel sorry for those outside of Christ, in the pit of sin, but until we look for ways to help them out, our pity will be of no benefit to them or God.