Compassion 101: The Basics

Compassion: noun. a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Psalm 86:15

15 But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

I came across this verse when I was studying this concept of compassion. David wrote this Psalm. In it, he describes God as being a God of compassion. He doesn’t necessarily refer to God as HAVING compassion. Instead, He actually embodies the word. When we fast forward to the new testament, we get to view what compassion looks like in the physical person of Jesus.

Let’s set the scene. Jesus runs into a man with leprosy. Leprosy is mentioned a lot in the bible. 40 times to be exact! According to Levitical law, a leper couldn’t come within 6 feet of another human (Leviticus 13). This would include his family. He would be isolated; completely alone. Leprosy is spread through contact from person to person. While in close contact with a leper, Jesus does the unthinkable. He reaches out his hand and touches the man. He does this because he was moved with compassion. Without compassion, there is no action.

Mark 1:40-42

40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.

41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

We don’t know how long this man had leprosy, but we can imagine it was years. He endured years of separation from everyone he knew. In one act of compassion, Jesus changed this man’s future.

Jesus did the exact same thing for you and me. Because of our sin, we were separated from God. There was nothing we could do to fix the relationship that was broken between us and God. In an act of compassion, Jesus carried a cross to Golgotha. He died and rose again on the third day. Through his death and resurrection, he fixed the relationship with God. When we realize what Jesus did for us on the cross, it becomes an overflow of who we are. At this point, compassion flows naturally.

Today’s prayer focus: Ask for God to develop a heart of compassion in you. Reflect on how this compassion can flow naturally through you with God’s help. Pray that God will give you the strength to display it through your actions.

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