Compassion is one of the virtues that we are encouraged to have as Christians. Jesus showed compassion to many and as His followers, we are expected to show it too.
But how can you show compassion when you do not understand what compassion is or how it works?
Christians claim to know compassion but if you ask them a few questions about it, gaps in knowledge emerge.
This article aims to explain what compassion is and why we need it. Once you know why you need compassion, it will be easy for you to show compassion to others.
What is Compassion?
Compassion is the nature of God. The Bible states that the Lord is Gracious and Compassionate. When Jesus came, He showed His nature of compassion to us.
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.
Jesus healed the sick, gave food to the hungry, comforted those who were mourning and paid the price of our sins.
All the actions of Jesus were driven by compassion, which is His nature.
When we follow Jesus, we become more like Him; we take up His compassionate nature.
What we see are the fruits of compassion. Compassion in itself is beyond what words can describe.
How to be more compassionate
Compassion is a nature that we learn. God is the source of compassion. We become more compassionate when we get closer to God.
The Bible says ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’. Behind this verse is a law of becoming. When you mingle with bad company, the law of becoming comes into play and your morals become like those of the people you are walking with.
The reverse of the law is also true. By exposing yourself to God, you take up His nature. Children end up behaving like their parents because they spend a lot of time with them.
If you spend time with God, you will get an impartation of His compassionate nature. It is impossible for someone who does not know God to show compassion.
Compassion in itself is the nature of God. How can someone who doesn’t know God show the character of God?
Why do we need Compassion?
Compassion is necessary because it is the only way God can help us. Without compassion, it would be impossible for God to help us.
There are two ways of getting help from God; by keeping His perfect law and by compassion. God couldn’t help us based on His law because we failed to keep it.
The only way that was left was for Him to use His compassionate nature to help us. God’s compassion prompted Him to send us Jesus to die for our sins.
Without God’s compassion, we would perish.
Compassion is what makes God uncomfortable when He sees us suffering. The discomfort prompts Him to help us out of our distress so that He can have peace.
The existence of compassion makes sure that God cannot have peace when He sees us suffering.
Jesus could not hold Himself from weeping when He saw the pain that Martha and Mary were going through after the death of their brother Lazarus. Out of His compassion, He raised Lazarus from death.
God heard the groaning of the children of Israel in Egypt and it disturbed Him. Out of His compassion, He sent Moses to go and get them out.
That is what compassion does.
The Role of Compassion
Compassion exists to prompt us to love one another in truth. Whenever someone you care about is in pain, compassion kicks in automatically.
Compassion makes you restless until you help someone you care about out of their pain. When a baby cries because she is hungry and helpless, the mother becomes restless.
The mother will be moved by compassion to find food for the helpless baby. That is how important compassion is in our lives.
Whenever you see someone suffering and you have a solution to their problem, compassion will make sure that you have no peace until you have helped the person.
By helping others, we fulfill the greatest law of loving our God with all our hearts, souls and minds and our neighbors as ourselves.
The Choice of Acting on Compassion
As much as compassion makes us restless and prompts us to help those in pain, we still have to make the decision to help.
Jesus had compassion on Martha and Mary and decided to act on His compassion by raising Lazarus from the dead.
Sometimes we can have compassion on people and do nothing about it. It is sad but it happens.
How many times have you been moved by compassion to help someone but you held yourself back until the compassion faded away?
Compassion fades away. If you don’t act on it, it fades.
When you hear a touching story of someone, in the moment, you will be moved to help that person. If you don’t help that person immediately, the compassion you have will fade and helping that person will become hard.
But we don’t always have to act whenever we have compassion. Some situations, though they draw our compassion, are best left alone.
In other situations, we can have compassion but we too are helpless. When a homeless person sees another homeless person, he may feel compassion for his friend but what can he do about it?
There is no need to feel guilty when you can’t act on the compassion you have for someone. It is the sad reality that happens. But if you are in a position to help, it is good to do so.
In fact, the Bible encourages us not to withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in our power to do it.
The Hindrance to Compassion
Pride and arrogance kills compassion. Compassion is stirred up when the one who needs it is helpless. But when the person who needs compassion allows pride and arrogance to take over, they kill the compassion they would have received.
When Jesus went to His hometown, most people didn’t honor Him. They allowed their pride to kill the compassion Jesus had on them. We are told that Jesus could only heal a few people there.
With little compassion, Jesus could only perform a few miracles.
This is also what makes it possible for God to see many people suffering and He remains unbothered. Many of those who are suffering are proud. The pride makes it impossible for God to show them compassion.
When Israel would rebel against God, He would leave them to other nations to enslave them. They would suffer under their oppressors but God would not be moved until when they turn from their rebellion.
We are to do away with pride for us to receive compassion.
May God help us!