Characteristics of Christ | COMPASSION
A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow
Day 24: Compassion (Matthew 9:36)
When was the last time you felt compassion for someone? I would venture to guess it’s not a feeling we experience very often. Maybe we should bring it back.
The word literally means “to suffer with/together” (com = with/together; passion = suffering). It’s closely related to pity, sympathy, or empathy. But it’s more than just pity.
Our word for compassion is translated from a really fun Greek word. Are you ready? It’s “splagchnizomai.” That’s the verb form, i.e. “to have pity/sympathy/compassion for.” The noun is “splagchnon.” This is the really interesting one because it literally means “intestines/entrails” – the inward parts of one’s body.
Have you ever been so emotionally moved you feel it in your gut? Have you ever had a sinking feeling in your stomach when you see injustice, poverty, or broken relationships? Have you ever felt love so deeply from someone that you feel a fire in your chest or butterflies in your stomach?
That’s the idea.
We’re told “The LORD is a gracious and compassionate God.” Jesus embodied that in his ministry. He felt compassion for the crowds because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He felt love for the rich young ruler because he knows what it’s like to give up everything. We’re told several times he was “moved with compassion.” Jesus felt these emotions deeply within himself.
But those deep feelings always moved him to action. We cannot truly experience compassion without acting on it. John says this very thing in 1 John 3:16-18. If we see someone in need, we shouldn’t withhold compassion (lit. close off our splangchnon). Love shouldn’t just be in words or speech, but in action.
God is gracious and compassionate. Jesus was moved with compassion. What stirs up feelings of compassion within you? How can you act on those feelings today or this week?