Not only did Jesus heal those in the crowd who were sick, he welcomed them. He spoke to them about the kingdom of God. And he fed them bread and fish until they were satisfied. His compassion made him do it. That’s what compassion looks like. It compels us, in the words of songwriter Matthew West, to “do something.”
True compassion goes beyond sentiment, always directing to some action. I have a friend who has so much compassion for kids that she uses her modest salary to sponsor twelve third-world children. I have other friends who have such a heart for the lost that they’ve spent their whole lives—time, money, resources, privacy—to train young people with the same passion to spread the gospel. Compassion leads others to send money to victims of natural (and unnatural) disasters. Those who love the church are driven by compassion to forsake an easier lifestyle in order to feed and nourish its sheep.
Compassion motivates people in almost every arena of life. Those who grieve over injustices, may seek work in law or politics as a way to bring relief. Compassion for one’s country leads some to the battleground. Compassion for the sick creates doctors, nurses and EMT’s. Soup kitchens and half-way houses exist because compassion stirred someone to care for the needy. As my friend Carol Cool writes, we don’t have to be a Mother Theresa to have compassion.
Compassion is not something we possess because we happen to be kind people. It is a gift from God, whether we acknowledge it as from him or not. “Every good and perfect gift is from above…from the Father of Heavenly lights” (James 1:17). He gives compassion freely, even if we misuse it. We can misappropriate the gift by taking credit for it ourselves (See what a caring person I am) or we can be satisfied with the feeling of compassion (It’s the thought that counts).
Let’s not fall into either of those camps. Instead, let’s fall on our knees and ask the Father of lights from whom we’ve received this gift how he wants us to use it. Then…
Let’s do something!