In his gospel account, Matthew recorded that when Christ looked upon the crowds of people, he “had compassion for them.” [Matt. 9:36] Charles Spurgeon noted in one of his sermons* that the original word denoting compassion “is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the bowels—a yearning of the innermost nature with pity.”
David also wrote about the Lord’s compassion:
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
— Psalm 145:8-9 NIV
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, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless.
— Henri Nouwen
Today as you take a few moments to refresh yourself after a long week, reflect on the compassion of Christ during His earthly ministry and in turn the compassion you can show others in His name.
*Whole sermon from Charles Spurgeon here: The Compassion of Jesus
I’ve been trying to work on my compassion skills lately. I think you are correct. You have to recognize what Christ did first. Trying to be compassionate based on anything else but the Father’s love for us, is just works. But when I recognize and can feel what God did for me in my own heart and life and show thankfulness, it will outpour into the lives of others around me. It’s still not easy. My first inclination is to be selfish, but I am learning. I have had to show a lot of compassion to my teens this week and then my son who is 9. I see their struggle with sin and how they are remorseful over it and I am torn up. It helps me be a better truth teller though. How can I not show grace to them when I struggle so much with sin? It’s a good thing for me to practice with my kids and show them grace and then also show the church and hurting people that same grace. It’s all a work of God though and thankfully He is changing me to be more loving and graceful.
These are excellent thoughts and a reflection of our ongoing challenge to balance grace and truth! You’re right in striving for the perspective of Christ’s compassion.
I know that personally I struggle with compassion and find I am better at showing it to some people than others (who knows why lol). I have asked God to help me see all people as He sees them (a large task for which only He has the tools!).
I think this is true of me as well. Some people just drive me crazy. I can think of a specific person that talks to me a mile a minute and never lets me get a word in. Then when I start to talk, she’s looking around the room. My son used to have a shirt and it had a squirrel on it and it said something about being distracted and then “Oh look a nut!” That is what she reminds me of. And when I talk to her, I feel like it’s a waste of breath. So it’s work. I have to say to my wandering heart, “Ok she is blessed when I talk to her and it’s not about me”. And so that helps. But basically knowing God put me in that situation for a reason. Relationships are so messy and compassion can be so hard because we are SO selfish. Good thoughts.
BTW, loved the quote on compassion. I’m somewhat of a quote junky!