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Show a little compassion along life’s way

One of the many things that my wife does with the children at church is making cards of encouragement for the sick and those going through hard seasons in life.  With a little guidance, every child is able to add a personal expression through words, drawings, and sometimes for the youngest ones just some simple scribbling.  It is not about making a masterpiece, but it’s about providing something to brighten the day of someone in crisis.

A couple weeks ago as they made cards for a lady in the community who is going through a difficult health battle.  Gale brought one of the cards to my attention.  It contained a beautiful note expressing love, hope, and comfort.  The little ten year old expressed her thoughts well as she reached out to the sick lady through her self-designed and hand written card.  It was a lovely act of compassion.

In the world of turmoil that we live in, compassion is needed more than ever.  With so much fear and panic about the virus pandemic, many aspects of our daily activities have been disrupted or eliminated.  And then images of evil deeds taking place in so many places are constantly being flashed before our eyes.  Surely those conditions make the need for genuine compassion greater than ever before.

I came upon a definition for compassion that expressed it as “Sympathy, pity, and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”  That is a suitable description of compassion, but from a Christian perspective, it seems to come up a bit short.  Compassion as God would have us to exercise it is more than pity and concern, but it goes the next step and does something about the needs of the suffering and misfortunate.  Jesus Christ demonstrated that well while He was on earth.  He provided guidance for the spiritually confused, nourishment for the hungry, and healing for broken hearts and bodies.

Matthew records a clear example of the compassion of Christ as He looked at the crowds in their religious confusion and lack of accurate spiritual guidance:  “When He [Christ] saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, New International Version).  Certainly it was an expression of His pity and concern for the misfortunes of the people, but it was more than that.  In His compassion He took steps to do something about it and provide a solution for them to follow to give them true spiritual guidance for their lives.  What did He do?  He instructed His disciples to pray for God to provide reinforcements to help bring Biblical direction to the lives of those who were in such a helpless and vulnerable condition.

In His compassion, Christ was also concerned about the basic physical necessities of the people.  On one occasion the Bible says that “Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with Me for three days and have nothing to eat.  I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way’” (Matthew 15:32).  Again, He had pity for those in need, but it was not merely an emotional response—He took action.  By the divine power of God, He took a few fish and a little bread and fed a huge multitude.

Of all the great expressions of compassion demonstrated by Christ—and there are many—the greatest of all was Him giving His life on the cross to pay for our sins.  Romans 5:8 describes it clearly:  “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  When we accept His gift of eternal life by believing on Him, we get a personal taste of His compassion. He saw our need for deliverance from sin and only He could do something about it—and He did.  As we follow Him, it should be our goal to demonstrate His compassion to those in need.  When we become more like Christ, we become more compassionate.