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by Scott Wylie

Compassion is the heartfelt response of empathy and care for the suffering and needs of others. The Bible consistently emphasizes the importance of compassion and portrays it as an essential virtue for believers to embody in their interactions with one another and the world around them.

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Infographic on the Biblical characteristic of Compassion

What is Compassion?

One of the most well-known passages about compassion is found in the book of Matthew, where Jesus teaches his disciples, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39, ESV). This commandment encompasses the essence of compassion, urging us to treat others with the same care, understanding, and kindness that we desire for ourselves.

In another powerful example, Jesus demonstrates compassion through his actions. In Matthew 14:14, it says, "When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick." This verse showcases Jesus' deep concern for those in need and his willingness to act upon it.

Cultivate Compassion

How can we develop the biblical quality of compassion in our own lives? Here are a few tips:

  1. Cultivate empathy: Seek to understand others' experiences, perspectives, and emotions. Practice active listening and put yourself in their shoes to foster a genuine sense of empathy.

  2. Reflect on God's compassion: Meditate on scriptures that highlight God's compassion, such as Psalm 103:13: "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him." Allow God's compassion to shape your own heart.

  3. Practice kindness: Look for opportunities to extend acts of kindness and mercy to those around you. Small gestures of love and care can make a significant impact on someone's life.

  4. Be attentive to others' needs: Pay attention to the needs of those around you, both physical and emotional. Take the initiative to offer assistance and support when you see someone in distress or facing challenges.

  5. Offer a listening ear: Take the time to genuinely listen to others without judgment. Provide a safe space for people to share their struggles, joys, and concerns. Proverbs 18:13 reminds us, "If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame."

  6. Practice forgiveness: Show compassion by extending forgiveness to those who have hurt or wronged you. Ephesians 4:32 encourages us to "be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

  7. Serve others: Engage in acts of service that meet the practical needs of others. Volunteer at a local charity, help the elderly, or participate in community initiatives that support the vulnerable.

  8. Pray for a compassionate heart: Ask God to cultivate compassion within you. Seek His guidance and strength to love others with His unconditional and compassionate love.

  9. Avoid judgment: Refrain from hasty judgments and assumptions about others. Instead, seek to understand their circumstances and extend grace and compassion.

  10. Share the love of Christ: Let your compassion be a reflection of Christ's love in you. Show others the transformative power of God's compassion by sharing the message of salvation and pointing them to the source of all compassion.

Compassion is a biblical quality that aligns with the heart of God. By cultivating empathy, reflecting on God's compassion, practicing kindness, being attentive to others' needs, offering a listening ear, practicing forgiveness, serving others, praying for a compassionate heart, avoiding judgment, and sharing the love of Christ, we can develop and display this essential virtue. May we seek to love and care for others with the same compassion that God has shown us, making a positive impact on the lives of those around us.

Prayer and Reading Guide for Developing Compassion

Here are ten things people could pray for to develop compassion, along with a corresponding Bible verse from the English Standard Version (ESV):

  1. Pray for a heart of compassion:
    "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." - Colossians 3:14

  2. Pray for eyes to see the needs of others:
    "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law." - Psalm 119:18

  3. Pray for empathy and understanding:
    "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." - 1 Peter 3:8

  4. Pray for the ability to extend kindness and mercy:
    "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32

  5. Pray for a spirit of forgiveness:
    "Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." - Colossians 3:13

  6. Pray for the courage to step out and help:
    "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." - James 2:17

  7. Pray for a heart that loves unconditionally:
    "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." - John 13:34

  8. Pray for wisdom in how to best support and care for others:
    "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." - James 3:17

  9. Pray for a spirit of selflessness:
    "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." - Philippians 2:3

  10. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you with compassion:
    "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23

By praying for a heart of compassion, eyes to see the needs of others, empathy and understanding, the ability to extend kindness and mercy, a spirit of forgiveness, courage to help, unconditional love, wisdom in caring for others, selflessness, and the filling of the Holy Spirit, we can develop and deepen our capacity for compassion. Let us seek God's guidance and His example of love and compassion as we strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us.

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