A few months ago, I spent some time with my beloved cousin in Florida. She is married and has two precious children and now a foster child. I watched in awe as she catered to his every last need, ministered to him in countless ways, joyfully included him in her family, and loved that little blonde-haired boy as her own. She did this all while caring for and loving the rest of her family. Throughout the midst of the many unknowns, my cousin and her family willingly choose each day to love this little boy regardless of how much time they may have left with him. Why do they do it? The call to be like Christ, in His compassion – that is what they choose each day.
I recently watched a video of a coffee shop in North Carolina called Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, which I can’t wait to visit one day! With a countercultural mindset, they are seeking to break the norms and give individuals with learning and developmental disabilities the opportunity to work and run the shop. The owner’s desire is for these individuals to become more valued, accepted, and included in every community and providing an opportunity for employment is their practical way of doing this. Why do they do it? To be compassionate – that is what this business chooses each day.
Of course, there are endless examples of people living out compassionate lives all around us, but let’s look to our perfect example of what it means to truly live a compassionate life; after all, we’re charged to be ‘little Christs’ by reflecting His character. In Matt. 9:35-38, we see a glimpse of Jesus having compassion for everyone around Him – not just on a special occasion, but because it was a normal day and showing compassion is how He lived every single day. No matter the circumstance, where someone came/comes from, or what they looked/look like, Jesus loves and ministers compassionately at all times to all people. Let’s focus in on what Jesus shows us a compassionate life should look like.
As defined by dictionary.com, compassion is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” Rather than only experiencing a feeling and desire, like we do when we see someone homeless, feel sorry for them, think ‘I wish I could help’, and then keep on driving, Jesus takes it a step further and actually puts those feelings and desires into action by opening His mouth to speak. In verse 35, Jesus teaches in the synagogues and proclaims the gospel of the Kingdom to all people. Jesus did not pick and choose specific people He deemed worthy to hear His message, but He chose to teach all people the truths of the coming Kingdom! Out of compassion, Jesus taught without discrepancy, and so should we.
From the moment we receive the gospel, it is never supposed to stop with us. The gospel came to us on the way to someone else, and God calls us to be ambassadors for Him! 2 Corinthians 5:20 explains that God desires to make His appeal, the gospel, to other people through each one of us! We all have seen from the front row just how good God’s grace is, and it is that same grace that fixes our problems. The Lord’s Words bring life, and how great a responsibility and honor we have to be able to speak those same words of life and grace to all those around us as God’s personal ambassadors! Let’s seek to speak out of compassion the powerful message Jesus has entrusted us with and equip others with that same opportunity!
Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages healing disease and affliction. For Jesus, the outward appearance was no deterrent; He focused on the inward and imposed no judgment. I love how the Jesus Storybook Bible explains that, “When Jesus saw all the people, his heart was filled with love for them.” He saw that the people were harassed and helpless and without a shepherd, so He chose to display His ultimate role of Shepherd in each of their lives. Through the healing of many people during Jesus’ ministry on earth, he was able to display beautifully and practically the compassion of God.
Jesus sought to heal physical needs, but He also knew that the spiritual needs of the people were even more of a concern. Like sheep without a shepherd, they had no one to guide them spiritually. Jesus earnestly desired that they would put their hope in His salvation. But He first established His credibility and trustworthiness by meeting their most present needs. We should take note and begin by meeting and caring for the needs of the oppressed as a bridge to their greatest need of salvation. Out of His compassion, Jesus healed many physical needs in order to begin healing the spiritual needs that were of utmost importance.
Jesus invited the disciples to join Him in praying that there would be an increase in laborers for the Kingdom of God. Jesus explained that there were numerous souls thirsty and ready to accept Jesus as Lord, yet the laborers for the gospel were lacking in number. Because of this, Jesus invited the disciples to pray with Him that the laborers would arise and take part in the work of the Kingdom of God by sharing and ministering the gospel to the lost and those without a shepherd. The fact that Jesus prayed for the lost signifies not only the importance of prayer, but also the true compassion that Jesus had for all people, who have a sin problem.
The MacArthur Study Bible states that, “Jesus affirmed the fact that believers’ prayers participate in the fulfillment of God’s plan.” The disciples were given first-hand the opportunity to participate in the fulfillment of God’s plan so that more people would come to know Jesus as Lord. Out of compassion, Jesus prayed and invited others to pray alongside Him for the souls who had an eternal need.
Girls, we are surrounded by hurting people every single day. You may never know what someone is dealing with. Many of you probably have a friend who has recently walked through the divorce of her parents. How are we to show compassion to someone even if we don’t think we have the right words to say? Be present. Maybe you need to lovingly invite your friend to your house so she can have a safe place to avoid of all the reminders of her current situation. Be practical. Maybe she needs a ride to school while her parents are dealing with the logistics of what comes next. Be prayerful. Pray for your friend! There is so much compassion to be found in someone who willingly prays for her friend. Compassion does not always have to look like writing a large check to the local charity or flying across the world to rebuild someone’s house, although both are good things. Compassion can be found in the simplest forms of choosing to be present, practical, and prayerful in someone’s life by speaking truth and encouragement to them.
In this short passage of four verses, we see a beautiful example of the compassion of Jesus. Though it may only be a glimpse, we can rest assured that Jesus has this same exact compassion on us every single day. We must choose every day to surrender to Jesus and live out His example of compassion to all those around us. It might be uncomfortable. But the blessing that will come from acting out of compassion like Jesus will far exceed any kind of discomfort you might experience. Out of compassion, Jesus offers salvation to each and every person on this earth. Choose today to accept that compassion, and then live like Christ by acting compassionately to those around you each and every day.
Jesus, thank You for Your ultimate example of compassion when You died to save each one of us. You love us so strongly, yet we forget that so many times. I pray that we will begin to choose daily to embrace the compassion You have on us and desire to bless others with it. I pray that You will equip us, strengthen us, and remove all fear as we seek to have compassion like You have shown to everyone around us.
“Compassion Hymn” Keith & Kristyn Getty
Befriend by Scott Sauls