Compassion means to suffer with another person. What does the Bible teach us about compassion?
The word compassion has a strong personal element. To have compassion means more than just feeling sorry for somebody. Compassion goes beyond sympathy or even empathy. It means to get down where they are in the midst of their needs, their hurts and their sin and to suffer with them in the midst of their pain.
Webster defines compassion this way: “A suffering with another; painful sympathy.” Painful sympathy. I like that.
Compassion is more than just a feeling. It’s more than just an emotion. It’s more than feeling sorry for people in trouble. Biblical compassion means that you see the problem, you are moved by the need and you go out to where the problem is. You get your hands dirty trying to help someone get their problems solved and raise them up to a higher level of life.
We see this compassion in a number of places in the life of Christ. Matthew 14:14 tells us that Jesus had compassion on the great crowd following him so he healed the sick and then fed the 5000.
When Jesus saw the two blind men of Jericho, Matthew 20:34 tells us that he was filled with compassion and healed them on the spot.
Mark 1:40-41 offers the most telling example of what compassion meant to our Lord Jesus. “A leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, If you will, you can make me clean. Moved with compassion, He stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, I will; be clean.”
Please understand something. For our Lord Jesus Christ, compassion was not a feeling; it was a commitment to get involved with people. Real compassion moves us from the church pew to a hurting world.
Now that we have an understanding of Biblical compassion, let me ask, “Where do we show compassion?” Again the Bible answers this question.
One day a man came to see Jesus with a curious question: “Who is my neighbor?"
In answer to this important question, Jesus told a story that we call the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.
Jesus said there once was a man on the road from Jerusalem down to Jericho. Thieves jumped upon him, beat him, stripped him, robbed him, and left him for dead. And before too long a priest, a minister of God, came by, saw the poor man lying there, and the priest walked on the other side so he wouldn’t have to get involved. He had to get to the church because he was the preacher.
A few minutes later a Levite came by, a theologian, a Doctor of Theology, a student of God’s word, a man who was supposed to know the character of God. When that Levite saw the poor man lying by the side of the road, he crossed to the other side so he wouldn’t have to bother with him. He was already late for his weekly Bible Study group, and he was the teacher.
Soon after that came a Samaritan. When Jesus called this man a Samaritan, he was talking about a despised group of people. The Jews hated the Samaritans. But Jesus said this half-breed, hated Samaritan came along and saw that poor man lying there. When he found out that he was still alive, he took his wine and poured it on his wounds. He dressed his wounds, picked the man up, put him on his donkey, took him up to the inn, paid the proprietor, stayed the night with the man, and the next morning he took money out of his own pocket, gave it to the inn keeper saying, “If there is more needed, I’ll settle the bill when I come back later.”
So who is it you want to be? The Priest, the Levite or the Samaritan? Even our children know the right answer. "It’s the Samaritan!” RIGHT !!! "It’s the Samaritan!”
All we know is that it was the Samaritan’s compassion that moved him to action. Our prayer might be, “O God, give us hearts of compassion like the Samaritan.
Jesus stands before us today saying: “Go and do likewise.”