What is the true meaning of compassion?
There are people around us that don’t have any food to eat. There are many people who suffer from severe illness without a way to treat them also live around us. People have various issues that make them live a miserable lives. Empathy towards someone means to feel or understand the sufferings of the people who are in trouble. But having compassion is something more than that.
The true meaning of the word compassion is not just having empathy on people who are suffering from sickness, pain and poverty, but having a desire to help them and bring some relief to their lives. The origin of the word ‘compassion’ is the Latin word ‘compati’ which means ‘to suffer with’. It is to feel their suffering and taking part in their sufferings by having affection towards them and helping them with our resources. Our Holy Bible talks about a God who has compassion for His people and advises us to have a compassionate heart.
We worship a God who suffered all the pains and griefs on the earth and so He understands us very well and He helps in our troubles.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin -Hebrews 4:15.
What does God say about helping those in need?
God has given us blessings and all the riches not just to have them all for ourselves alone, but to share our blessings with those who are in need. If we have a compassionate heart towards the people who suffer, we will be able to help them. God blessed us and He wants us to be a blessing for others who are in need.As our God is compassionate, He wants us to be compassionate towards people who are in need.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. -Luke 6:36
When we have compassion towards those who suffer and help them to meet their needs, God views it as being done to Himself. If we show care and affection for the people under poverty and sickness, we are doing it to our Savior.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me”. And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” -Matthew 25:34-36, 40.
It’s a great privilege to help those who are in need as it will be considered to be done to our God.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord , and he will repay him for his deed -Proverbs 19:17.
If we turn our faces away from the people who are in need, God won’t accept our offerings. God doesn’t need our offerings, but He wants us to have compassion on those who are in need and help them survive in their sufferings.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen -1 John 4:20.
How does God want us to help others?
We are saved and got the privilege to worship our God just because He had compassion upon us. Otherwise we would have perished. So God wants us to show the same compassion towards the people around us.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy -Matthew 5:7.
A small act of love towards the people in need will be pleasing before God. No offerings will give such a sweet aroma before God like a compassionate heart does. We need to give generously to the poor. God expects us to help those who have illness struggling to get a treatment for that illness. If someone is getting punished without a reason, we should stand by their side and help them to come out of the problem.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. -Proverbs 24:11
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? -Isaiah 58:6-7.
God doesn’t want our compassionate act to be limited to the poor and oppressed, but also to the people who hate and give trouble to us. If we do help them, our rewards will be piled up in the heavenly treasures and also it will bring peace between us and that person.
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him. -Exodus 23:4-5
What scripture says about helping others?
God wants us to love and have compassion on those who are in need and redeem those who are suffering as God has loved us and had compassion upon us. One of the most important commandments that Jesus insisted was to love your neighbour as yourself.
The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these”. -Mark 12:31.
If we could consider the sufferings of other people as ours, then it will be easy to have compassion on them from the bottom of our heart and help them.
Your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. -2 Corinthians 8:14
There are many people of God who sacrificed their lives and live in wilderness and other dangerous areas just to proclaim the love of Christ to the unreached people. If we could not do the same, we can help them share the gospel through our riches and generosity. If we support them in their needs, God will supply our needs abundantly.
And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. -Matthew 10:42
Do good when it is in your power
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it” —when you have it with you. -Proverbs 3:27-28
We are called to have compassion and help those who are in need. We might possess treasures and riches in our stores. At the same time, our neighbour may be suffering from hunger and poverty. God has blessed us with all the treasures not to store up only for us and our children, but He wants our riches to be helpful for those who are in need. If we have the capability and power to help others, we should not stop ourselves from doing good to others.
When someone asks for help, we should not say no to them. It doesn’t mean that we should help wicked people in their wicked ways. But we need to know whether their need is genuine or not. That’s why this scripture specifies the term “those to whom it is due”. We need to share whatever we have with them so that our Lord will be pleased with our deeds. If we are in a higher position and have authority to help people to attain their needs, we can use our power to help them out.
When we help the people who are in need, we are expected to do it without expecting anything in return from them. If we do so, our reward in heaven will be more.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. -Luke 6:35
Stories of compassion in the Bible
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest”. -Matthew 9:36-38
When Jesus saw multitudes, he was moved with compassion for their souls. As they did not have a Savior, they were weary and scattered. He asked His disciples to pray to God for sending workers to bring them to the Savior so that they could be saved.
When Jesus lived in this earth, He was filled with compassion for the people who were in need. He healed their sicknesses and gave them food when they were hunger with compassion. He cried for the family which lose their beloved brother (John 11:33-35). In all the instances, he didn’t just left without helping them. He fulfilled their needs and made them happy amidst their sufferings. He is our forerunner and we are called to follow His path. Thus, we need to have compassion on people who are in need and help them to have their needs.
In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus told a parable to the people, in which a king forgives the debts of one of his servants. But when the servant went out, he saw another man who owed him a small amount to him. But he did not have compassion on that man. The servant would have did the same compassionate action that he received from his master to this man. But he didn’t have compassion towards the man. Even though he went through the similar grieving situation, he was not willing to help the other person. Thus, when the master came to know about this servant’s act, the master punished him for his debts.
As God had compassion on us and provide us our daily bread without fail, we are expected to be compassionate enough to consider the situation of those who owed to us and make sure that they have their daily bread.
If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate. -Exodus 22:26-27