Have compassion for one another

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8).

Compassion is a deep awareness of, and sympathy for, another’s suffering, accompanied by a desire to do something about it.

Jesus is our example.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

When Jesus was on earth, He showed compassion.

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

Jesus came to be the good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14). He is the “great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20). He is “the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). We humans need leadership and He is the perfect leader.

Following His example, we should have compassion for those who are lost like sheep without a shepherd.

What should our compassion cause us to do about it? First, Jesus tells us to pray: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37, 38).

After praying, we ought to translate our compassion into action. Paul asked: “And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14, 15).

When we have compassion for the lost, we will pray, send and go.

Compassion means that we sometimes help when we really need to rest. “And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:31-34).

Jesus had compassion on people who were hungry. “Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way’” (Matthew 15:32).

On another occasion, when the disciples wanted to send the crowd away because they had no food, Jesus said: “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16).

Jesus had compassion on the sick. “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14).

Jesus had compassion on mourners. “And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother” (Luke 7:12-15).

We have compassion on others because God has compassion on us. Jesus told about a slave who owed his master a large sum. “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:27). But when the slave showed no compassion for a fellow slave who only owed him a small amount, his master was angry. “Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:33).

We ought to follow the example of the good Samaritan: “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion” (Luke 10:33).

Although we hate sin, we ought to have compassion on sinners and strive to rescue them, being careful not to become entangled ourselves. “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 22, 23).

Without compassion, religious observance is worthless.

When the ruler of the synagogue criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, He replied: “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound - think of it - for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:15, 16). They had more compassion for a donkey than for this woman.

Another time He told the religious leaders: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Mathew 23:23).

On the other hand, there are some who mistakenly think that compassion is sufficient for salvation. They are confident that God requires nothing more than being kind to others.

This is proven wrong by the salvation of Cornelius. Although he is described as “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2) he was not saved because the angel told him: “'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11:13, 14).

Even though he believed in God, prayed regularly, and gave alms to the poor, Cornelius was not saved. To be saved he had to hear the gospel, believe in Jesus, and be baptized.

God appreciates the good that people do and has promised that those who seek will find. The angel told Cornelius: “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4). But people cannot be saved just by praying and doing good deeds because along with the good, there is also sin in the life of every person. Only through the blood of Christ can sin be washed away.

So let us follow Jesus’ example and be compassionate. Let us bring the lost sheep to the Shepherd. Let us feed the hungry and help the sick. Let us be compassionate as God has been compassionate to us.

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8). Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.

Published in The Old Paths Archive