COMPASSION – feeling the hurts of others and doing what you can to help.
Me! Me! Me! Sounds like a toddler yelling about what he wants, right? But if we are truly honest, it is easy for all of us to think only of ourselves and the things we want. This is because we were born sinners and sin makes us selfish. However, God’s Word, the Bible, tells us that we need to put others ahead of ourselves and to think about their needs. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”(Philippians 2:4) God tells us to be this way because we are to be just like He is. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”(Luke 6:36)
The greatest example of compassion is the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only did He show compassion to those around Him during His earthly life, but He also extends compassion to everyone who has ever lived now. He does this by offering you and me salvation from our sins if we will only accept it. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) If we do not accept God’s gift of salvation, we will be unable to go live with Him in Heaven someday and we will not have His help to live our lives with true compassion, true peace, and true joy. Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If so, let’s take a short look at Jesus’ life and ministry and see how you can be just like Him.
Jesus’ life here on earth lasted for only 33 years. We don’t know much about His growing up years, just that He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). This means that, like all kids, He grew up and learned many things. He had a good relationship with God and a good reputation with people. He was more than just a regular kid though. Jesus was (and still is) the Son of God. And, as the Son of God, Jesus began His public ministry at the age of 30. For the next three years, He taught the people on earth about God’s kingdom and how they should live. He did many miracles. And the things Jesus taught the people then are still so very important for you and me to know now. We can learn these things as we read and study the Bible.
JESUS HAD COMPASSION ON A LARGE CROWD OF PEOPLE
One day Jesus told His tired disciples that they needed to get away and rest for a while. So they pushed their boats away from shore and began to cross the Sea of Galilee to find a quiet place away from the crowds. The people saw where they were going and began to run around the water to meet them on the other side. So when their boats reached the shore many people were already there waiting for Jesus and the disciples.
Jesus wasn’t angry when He saw them waiting. Instead, He felt compassion for them. He said that they were like sheep without a shepherd. They were looking for a leader to guide them. Very quickly Jesus was surrounded by many people needing help. So even though they were all tired, Jesus healed the sick and taught the people about heaven and how to live.
After a while, His disciples came to Him and said, “Send the people away so that they can get some food.” Instead, Jesus said, “You feed them.” The disciples said, “How can we feed them? There are too many. Even if we had lots of money it wouldn’t be enough to buy food for them all!” Jesus then asked them, “What food do you have?” They said, “A young boy has given us his lunch, but it’s only 5 small rolls and 2 fish.”
Jesus had the large crowd sit down on the grass. He then took the small lunch and thanked His Father God for it. He broke the bread and fish into pieces and filled a basket for each disciple to pass out to the people. People took all they wanted to eat, and the disciples kept coming back to Jesus to fill their baskets with more food. In the end, everyone ate until they were full and the disciples each had a basket of leftovers. Jesus had fed a crowd of 5000 men (plus women and children … LOTS of people) with only one small lunch of 5 small rolls and 2 fish. This showed that Jesus cared not only for their spiritual needs but for their hunger as well.
JESUS HAD COMPASSION ON A LEPER
Some of the people living in Jesus’ day had leprosy. This is a terrible disease where a person loses feeling in their skin and then their bodies begin to decay. If you had leprosy then you didn’t want anyone else to catch it from you. So you would move away from your family and live with other lepers. To warn people you would keep your face covered and yell, “Unclean,” if anyone came near.
One day as Jesus was preaching in Galilee, a man with leprosy called out to Him saying, “If you will, you can make me clean!” Jesus was moved with compassion for the man. He could see and feel what this awful disease had done to this man … the man had lost so much. So Jesus did something that no one had done for a long time. He reached out and touched the man. Jesus then said, “I will, be clean.” And immediately the man was healed and made whole.
Throughout His public ministry, Jesus had compassion on many many others who were sick, blind, lame, and deaf. Jesus saw their needs. He took the time to help them and teach them about God and the only way of salvation.
JESUS HAD COMPASSION ON A WIDOW
One day as Jesus and His disciples came into the village of Nain, they were met by a funeral procession. Young men were carrying one of their friends who had died. They were taking him to the gravesite. Following them was a great crowd and the weeping mother. The mother now had no family left since her husband was already dead and this was her only child.
When Jesus saw the mother He had compassion on her. He knew her deep sadness. He looked into her eyes and said, “Do not cry.” He then stepped up to the body of the dead man and said, “Young man, I say to you, get up.” Immediately the life came back into the body and the young man sat up. Jesus brought him to his mother who was now crying for joy. The people were amazed, and they gave praise to God.
Then they told another lie. They wrote an open letter, one that everyone could read, saying that the only reason Nehemiah wanted the walls rebuilt was so that he could proclaim himself the king of the land. These evil men knew that if word of this got back to the real king, that he would be angry for letting Nehemiah go and that he would send his army to destroy Jerusalem once again. Nehemiah wrote back to Sanballet and told him that what they said was not true at all. During all of this, the workers kept working … DETERMINED to finish.
JESUS HAD COMPASSION EVEN WHILE ON THE CROSS
Even as He was in great pain and dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus had compassion for those around Him. He took the time to comfort the thief who was dying on a cross next to Him. Jesus also looked at his own mother who was there and told John, one of His disciples, to take care of her from then on. Jesus even asked His Father to forgive those who had crucified Him.
In all these things we see that Jesus had compassion. He was aware of the needs and feelings of the people around Him. He took time to help them even when He was tired and hurting. What an example to us!
You can also be compassionate. Every day you are around people who are hurting and need help … help that you can give. Today, look for one way to show compassion to someone around you … and tomorrow look for another way to help someone else. Ask God to help you. Perhaps you can listen to someone who is sad and then tell them about Jesus … maybe you can share your lunch with a classmate who doesn’t have enough to eat … maybe you can donate some of your clothes or toys to children living at a homeless shelter … maybe you can help an elderly person with some of the chores that they can no longer do … or maybe you can use some of your allowance to help buy Bibles for people who don’t have one. You can always pray! Use each opportunity to share the love of Jesus.
WHAT WILL YOU DO TODAY TO BE LIKE JESUS AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR WORLD?