What is compassion? Do we need to show compassion? Do we need to show it to everyone, or just to those who are Christians? These questions often surround the idea of compassion and we should all be aware of the answers to these questions. We all need to be shown compassion, as well as show compassion to others. As we will study in depth later, Jesus showed compassion to others, so we need to as well. Just as Jesus tells us in John 13:15, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”, we need to follow Christ’s example. So let us begin the study of compassion and how to show it.
First we need to know what compassion is before we dive any deeper. Compassion can be defined as: “A sympathetic or sorrowful feeling towards another.” In other words, we feel sorry for this person, and/or we want to help them, therefore we have compassion on them. Compassion can be shown by words or actions. As I mentioned earlier, let’s look at examples of Jesus’ compassion towards others to get a better understanding.
Jesus in many accounts has shown compassion for people. In Matthew 15:32 it states, “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”” Here Jesus directly says that he has compassion for these people who have been following him around for three days. He does not want to let them go hungry, so he feeds the four thousand of them with seven loaves and a few small fish. Another example would be in Luke 7:13 when a widow is carrying her dead son out of the city and Jesus sees her. Verse 13 says, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”” Some versions might say “He felt compassion” or “He had compassion”. Either way he had compassion on this widow, and as the story goes he raises up her son from the dead. Jesus was showing us that no one is to be rejected and that we should have compassion for everyone.
There are many other examples of Jesus showing compassion for the people, like in Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, and Matthew 20:34. In all of these examples, there is an action that Jesus shows to support his feeling of compassion. Whether it is teaching them something, feeding them, or healing their sick, something is always done to show that Christ had compassion on those that he said he did, and we should do the same. Also, notice how these people were what we would call “regular people”. These were not the priests, scribes or Pharisees of the day, in other words, the most important people in the social hierarchy.
So yes, we do need to show compassion, and we need to show it to everyone, not just the one’s we like or who are important. Because everyone is important, we must not show partiality as James 2:1-10 states.
But showing compassion is not just feeling sorry for them. Ephesians 4:32 says this, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” To show compassion, we must be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving. All of these are showing someone compassion when we do them. It shows them that we care enough about them to be kind to them and to forgive them.
We must be compassionate because our Heavenly Father is compassionate. We know this because David writes in Psalm 86:15, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” God is merciful and gracious, and his Son, just like in the examples we described above, was also. Therefore, we should be too because we are supposed to be like Christ (1 Peter 2:21).
So in conclusion, we must be compassionate. We need to show it, and we need to show it to everyone. Just as Jesus was compassionate, we must do the same.