Passion for Compassion
There are words that are very powerful to me. As a Christian, they depict qualities and actions that best define my understanding of Faith. One of these, that has been particularly meaningful, over this past week, in the light of a loss, is compassion. Compassion, most literally and simply, means “to suffer with.” In our pain, there have been many who have come alongside us and shown compassion which has meant a great deal to us. We express our gratitude.
I have been thinking about terms that are associated with healing over this past week that are sometimes used as synonyms for compassion, like sympathy and empathy. These are great but fall short of actual compassion. Sympathy means you can understand what the person is feeling. Maybe you have been there or you can see the significance but there is no emotional attachment. It is simply a mental acknowledgement. Empathy takes things a step further. Empathy means you can feel what the other person is feeling. It goes beyond the mental acknowledgement to an emotional attachment. Compassion goes one step further and is willing to try and relieve the suffering of the person or persons. It is truly putting love into action. As one person reflects, “The origin of the word helps us grasp the true breadth and significance of compassion. In Latin, ‘compati’ means “suffer with.” Compassion means someone else’s heartbreak becomes your heartbreak. Another’s suffering becomes your suffering. True compassion changes the way we live.” How does it change?
Our compassion reflects the nature of God. The Bible says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) In the midst of our human suffering, in the midst of a fallen and sinful world, stands a God whose “compassions never fail…great is His faithfulness." We reflect His compassion as we are compassionate.
As we follow Jesus and try and grow like Him, we aim for compassion. “Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. ...Luke 10:30-35 (ESV) “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them…” Matthew 9:36 (ESV) We reflect Jesus’ compassion as we are compassionate.
As we build the church with acts of compassion, we declare that we are Jesus’ disciples. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 (NIV) “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) Compassion is the bottom line; it is the real thing. As we touch lives in the Body of Christ, with genuine care and concern, the world watches. People are looking for a love that is sincere, that goes the extra yard. As we serve one another with true compassion, coming along side each other in care and concern, lives are healed and transformed. “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” Peter 3:8 (NIV) “No act of kindness, however small is ever waited.” Compassion is an intricate building block in the Body of Christ!
“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 receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
Thank you for the compassion you have shared with us to help us heal. Thank you for the passion you have for compassion.
Love, Pastor Ralph