What Is Compassion and How Do I Cultivate It?

Compassion is a weird word that has its roots in Late Latin, Anglo-French, and Middle English words from the 1300s. The concept is older, it’s loving sympathy and empathy. Dictionary.com defines it as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strond desire to alleviate the suffering.”

Jesus Was Often Moved With Compassion

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matt 9:36

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matt 14:14

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” Matt 15:32

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matt 20:34

He is filled with desire to help others.

How To Develop Compassion, Though?

It’s opposites are easily recognizable. Mercilessness and indifference, which are found on the roads kid giving homeless man food in compassionwithout even trying to look. How does one develop mercy and a tender heart?

You have to feel for others, which is only possible with a humble heart. It takes thinking of others more than you think of yourself. Countercultural in today’s narcissistic society. That’s an exercise of will to trigger an emotion, without any physical action yet.

Jesus acted on it.

James criticized not acting on it.

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
James 2:15-16

Be bold enough to act, listen for God’s prompting you to do something. That’s how Jesus operated on earth, listening to what the Father said, obeying, and doing what he saw the Father do.

In my journal I wrote, “Do what God asks me to do, leave the response to Him.” Twenty minutes later on a completely unrelated post, my cousin posted the same thing. Point made.

A good thing is still good, even if God didn’t whisper it in your ear. Doing good is always His will.

Here’s a place to start: to see people as people, and not cogs in your life that keep your world turning for your benefit. Ask God for eyes that truly see, and be surprised at the depth revealed to you.

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