Jesus talks a lot in the Bible about compassion. He shared how God would leave the ninety-nine to go after one. He spoke of a prodigal son returning home to his father’s open arms. He stood up for a woman caught in the act of adultery as he drew in the dirt and told the onlookers to cast the first stone if they were without sin. One by one they walked away.
In all of these stories, compassion involves action.
I’ve heard it said that compassion is just emotion until you cross the street. To Jesus, compassion means responding to the needs around us.
One story in particular highlighted this truth. In Luke 10:25-37, an expert in the law asked Jesus what he had to do to be saved. Jesus asked him what the law said, and the man recited that it says we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. Great answer! Jesus agreed with this answer, but then the man took it as step further as he asked, “And who is my neighbor (Luke 10:29)?”
Jesus was a story teller and he stayed true to form as he answered this man’s question. Instead of telling him, he painted a picture as he shared about the Good Samaritan. He said in Luke 10:30-36:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’"
Jesus then asked him who was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers and the man responded, the one who had mercy on him. Jesus’ parting words to him were, “Go and do likewise.”
These words hold true for us today. We are crowned to love other people. This is our mission! The neighbors we are called to love aren’t just the people who live next door. They are everyone around us— the homeless, the destitute, the broken, the kids around our kids who act out because they come from broken homes, and the prickly people who struggle to be kind and loving to us.
Imagine what our world would look like if we all really walked this out every day - if we paused for the compassionate cause of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves!
WE ARE THE ANSWER TO INJUSTICE.
Let’s take a closer look at how we are crowned for mission:
- Describe a time God interrupted the routine of your day by prompting you to respond to a need around you.
- What are the biggest hindrances to you living with this mindset daily?
For further reflection:
Let’s do a little test this week. Each morning, ask God to interrupt your world to show love to your neighbors. Keep a journal of each moment where God uses you. Describe how it makes you feel to be his hands and feet to the people around you. As the week wraps up, take some time to reflect back. Think through each situation. Say a prayer again for each person with a need you were able to help meet in a moment. How did it make you feel to be used this way by God?
Verses on compassion:
Mark 6:34 - And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
Mark 1:41 - Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Matthew 18:27 - Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
Matthew 14:14 - And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
Matthew 9:36 - But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.