“Compassion is at the heart of every little thing we do. It is the dearest quality we possess. Yet all too often it can be cast aside with consequences too tragic to speak of. To lose our compassion, we lose what it is to be human.” ---Author Unknown
I. What Biblical Compassion Is
The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. ---Ex 4:6
A. Compassion Signifies Emotion
- Racham - womb
- A mother’s affectionate tender feelings and ongoing care for her defenseless infant.
"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even though they may forget, I will not forget you." ---Isa 49:15 (ESV)
16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, “Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house, and I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us. 19 “During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.” 22 The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.” But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king. 23 The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’” 24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.” 26 The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” 27 Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” 28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice. ---1 Kings 3:16-28
B. Compassion Evokes Actions
1. In the Old Testament
a. Delivering the People
Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. ---Ex 3:7, NLT
b. Providing Their Needs
c. Embracing the People
27 So you delivered them into the hands of their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies. 28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time. ---Neh 9:27-28
d. Turning Away from Anger
But he, being full of compassion, Forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: Yea, many a time turned he his anger away, And did not stir up all his wrath.” ---Ps 78:38, KJV
2. In the New Testament
a. Feeding the Hungry
32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” 33 The disciples said to Him, “Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; 36 and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” ---Mt 15:32-36
b. Healing the Sick
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. ---Mt 14:4, NIV
c. Raising the Dead
12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. ---Lk 7:12-15, ESV
d. Dying for their Sins
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ---Mk 10:45
II. What Should Our Response Be?
"Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, and to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human." ---Henri Nouwen
"You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate." ---Lk 6:36, NLT
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.” ---Col 3:12, MSG
Compassion - "to be moved in one's bowels"; core of a person's intimate feelings
30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he encountered robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by coincidence a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan who was on a journey came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed compassion to him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” ---Lk 10:30-37, NASB
A. Perceiving Needs
When we see through a heart of compassion, we begin to perceive the needs of others.
B. Feeling Pain
Latin: com = with; passion = suffer
Compassion = “suffer with”
Compassion involves feeling moved by others' suffering so that our hearts respond to their pain.
C. Taking Action
"True compassion means not only feeling another's pain but also being moved to relieve it." ---Daniel Coleman
Compassion is a decision.
True compassion comes at a cost:
- two denarii = two days' wages
- sacrifices = time, energy, resources
Have we been too preoccupied with our concerns and pursuits to respond to others' cries and needs?
Sympathy looks in and says, "I'm sorry.”
Compassion goes in and says, "I’m with you.”
Sympathy looks in and says, "I would like to help."
Compassion goes in and says, "I am here to help."
Sympathy says, "I wish I could carry your burden."
Compassion says, "Cast your burden on me."
Sympathy often irritates with many words.
Compassion helps and hears in quietness and understanding. ---Author Unknown