My second blog of this series feels a little like a ‘part 2’ to my first blog on love – you could describe compassion as ‘love in action.’ For some, your thoughts may turn to the kind of compassion witnessed in the life of Mother Teresa, surely the epitome of compassion. For others, it may be something more personal, remembering compassion shown to you at your moment of need, or a time you were moved by compassion to help someone else.
Here are 3 brief thoughts about what compassion is:
1. Compassion starts with God. ‘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. Throughout the Bible, no matter what the people of God got up to, they were always only a few chapters away from God showing compassion. The same is true for us today; no matter what we do and where we find ourselves, we are only a cry for help away from being recipients of God’s compassion. Perhaps the difference between the world’s compassion and God’s compassion is found in the related value of grace: we are not always deserving of compassion, but God shows it anyway. And we are called to show compassion to all who need it, not just those we deem worthy of it.
2. Compassion is something you wear. Colossians 3:12 tells us to clothe ourselves in compassion. But before we get to putting on compassion, verses 5-10 list the other things we might need to remove first. You can’t skip this bit – it simply doesn’t work to try and show compassion if other aspects of your life are demonstrating evil desires, greed, anger, and rage. Like putting on layers of clothes, if you put compassion on the top of other things, it is likely to be the first thing you take off. Compassion is the essential garment, not an added extra, and just like our outfits it should be visible, noticeable by others. And when you’re wearing compassion like an outfit, it’s easier to start a trend. One kindness leads to another and releases those who have been recipients of compassion to become givers of it.
3. Christian compassion begins as a feeling but results in an action. Here is a dictionary definition of the word compassion – ‘A strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them.’ Although this definition suggests an action may follow, it doesn’t insist on it, whereas multiple stories of Jesus feeling compassion for people are followed by action – healing, miracles, feeding…changing lives for the better. The compassion we are looking to model as a core value of who we are is not content to stop at feeling sympathy but leads to life-transforming action.
Do you have stories of compassion in action? We’d love to hear them so please get in touch.


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