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Compassion

Compassion means to be "sympathetic to another person's trouble or pain." Although compassion is sometimes regarded as a sign of weakness, it's actually just the opposite - it's the strength to do what is right in a highly competitive and dangerous world. There are numerous words and terms in The Bible (at least 5 Hebrew of the Old Testament and 8 Greek of the New Testament) that mean compassion. Some examples:

Miriam The Pharaoh's daughter had compassion on the infant Moses:

"Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, and her maidens walked beside the river; she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to fetch it. When she opened it she saw the child; and lo, the babe was crying. She took pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children." (Exodus 2:5-6 RSV)

"The Good Samaritan" had compassion:

"Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him." (Luke 10:30-34 RSV)

Jesus Christ had compassion for sinful people, not as tolerance or acceptance of their bad behavior, but to give them an opportunity to repent and turn to God:

"And as He sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when He heard it, He said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:10-13 RSV)

Many of the miracles that the Messiah did were the result of His compassion for people:

"As He went ashore He saw a great throng; and He had compassion on them, and healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14 RSV)

"Then Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." And the disciples said to Him, "Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?" And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks He broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over" (Matthew 15:32-37 RSV)

"And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." And He came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And He gave him to his mother." (Luke 7:13-15 RSV)

Fact Finder: Is compassion among the qualities of God's people?
Colossians 3:12-14


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