A compassionate heart comes from a transformed heart…one that’s been changed from the inside out. Upon receiving the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God, the overflow is compassion toward others. Compassion is a deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by an earnest desire to bring relief. It’s that feeling of pity and distress over the suffering or misfortune of another and the effort to help alleviate it.
Our family supports Compassion International, a child sponsorship relief and development agency that’s doing amazing work worldwide. This organization brings out the sympathetic consciousness of Christian men and women who share a common desire to bear the burdens of those much less fortunate than we are today. In supporting Compassion we in turn are coming alongside children and their families in impoverished nations around the globe. There are many other groups like Compassion, such as World Relief and World Vision, who share such a mission of compassionate mercy. Each ministry extends compassion to the lost and least of these who suffer physically, mentally, and spiritually, and do so with godly integrity.
This kind of co-suffering (the Latin root of compassion) comes from our emotional or passionate response to “do unto others what you would have them do to you” which is the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). When we are compelled to serve others compassionately, we do so with empathy for the pain, heartache, and disappointment caused by suffering of all forms and magnitudes. A compassionate heart is able to reach beyond one’s personal needs or interests and into the life of another, doing so in ways that we would appreciate receiving if ever in a similar situation.
Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) is an expression of true compassion shown indiscriminately to all in need, and is in keeping with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” In the parable it was “the one who had mercy on him” who shows us how to be a neighbor to another in need. The priest and Levite passed by the man who had been beaten by robbers, but the Samaritan took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, poured oil on him, put the man on his donkey, took him to the inn and cared for him out of his own financial resources. The Samaritan had a compassionate heart and his alleviation of suffering brings a smile to the face of God.
The Apostle Paul commends the Church in Corinth to live out the compassion of God toward one another. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God,” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4. The Scriptures are filled with references to the Father of compassion who continually shows mercy, love and compassion to his beloved children.
Identify those in your sphere of influence who are in need of compassion and comfort today. Who do you know who’s alone, in prison, hurting, hungry, and/or suffering in body, mind, or spirit? In what ways can you prayerfully, lovingly and tangibly express compassion today? May your compassionate heart overflow toward all who you know are in need, and may the God of all comfort envelop and sustain you in your acts of merciful service now and always. Amen.