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Many times, I will hear a person say, “I really feel sorry for them” when hearing about someone else’s difficult situation. We may label such feelings as compassionate, because many dictionaries define compassion something along the line of “Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others” (Oxford English Dictionary). But is that all compassion really is?

Jesus was the king of compassion and as such, knew all about how compassion truly is to work in one’s life (cf. Matt. 14:14; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; Luke 7:13-14). In teaching about this in Luke 10, Jesus tells a very familiar story – the Parable of the Good Samaritan. As we know, Jesus told about a certain Jew who fell among thieves, was beaten, and left for dead. We also know how a priest and Levite came and passed by on the other side. Let’s pick up the account there:

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you’” (Luke 10:33-35).

From these three verses, we can see three things that true compassion consists of:

True compassion feels something (v.33). The NAS version says in this verse that “he felt compassion.” Truly he felt sorry for the beaten man. It pained him inside to see this situation. True compassion causes our hearts to hurt when others are hurting.

True compassion does something (v.34). Notice that he didn’t stop with his feelings alone – they motivated him to render assistance. He felt an obligation to help, regardless of the risk. True compassion compels us to action.

True compassion costs something (v.35). This compassionate Samaritan, in addition to all the help he had already given, gave up two days’ wages to house the wounded man – and was even willing to pay more, if needed. Money is no object where true compassion is concerned. True compassion motivates us to utilize our resources.

How compassionate are you?

Edd Sterchi
Broadway church of Christ
Campbellsville, KY

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