From my devotional today - I tell you He works in wonderful ways. This is yet another thing I have been struggling with, and He provided me this!
Compassion. It’s a great word, but what does it mean? Is it an emotion? Is it an action? Both? Neither? How about this question: What makes Christian compassion different?
Webster tells us that compassion is being sympathetically aware of others’ distress and having a desire to do something about it. This definition makes me think about how we’re motivated to approach someone emotionally, often wanting to help but having no clue how. I can’t begin to recall the number of times I’ve felt compassion and either froze or fumbled around trying to figure out what I should do as I was caught up in my feelings.
Jesus didn’t seem to have that problem. The Gospels and the letters of the New Testament describe his attitude and actions as flowing from compassion, but they rarely mention an accompanying show of emotion. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that when we feel deeply about something, our focus at that moment is what we are feeling rather than the person that has caught our attention. “Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:35-36, NLT).
These verses reveal the nature of compassion as Jesus understood it. It is free from the blinding, paralyzing self-focus that often accompanies emotion. Compassion as expressed by Jesus has such laser focus that even in the midst of crowds of people, it reads the stories on the faces of those who are silent and hidden. It understands that they are all alone like sheep without a shepherd, wounded by the hostile world and without the resources and defenses to protect themselves.
These were people who lived in the shadows so well that many never even knew they were there. They were the kind of people who had become experts at avoiding unwanted attention. Sounds like many of us. Jesus’ compassion for those people that day saw what others didn’t: that they were just what the Kingdom of God needed. So are you.