Question: "What does the Bible say about compassion?"

Answer: The Hebrew and Greek words translated "compassion" in the Bible mean "to have mercy, to feel sympathy and to have pity."

We know that, according to the Bible, God is "a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness" (Psalm 86:15). Like all of God’s attributes, His compassion is infinite and eternal. His compassions never fails; they are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, exemplified all of the Father’s attributes, including His compassion. When Jesus saw His friends weeping at the grave of Lazarus, He felt compassion for them and wept alongside them (John 11:33-35).

Moved with compassion for the suffering of others, Jesus healed the large crowds who came to Him (Matthew 14:14), as well as individuals who sought His healing (Mark 1:40-41). When He saw the large crowds as sheep without a shepherd, His compassion led Him to teach them the things the false shepherds of Israel had abandoned. The priests and scribes were proud and corrupt; they despised the common people and neglected them, but Jesus had compassion on them, and He taught and loved them.

When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded that it is to love God with all our heart, mind and strength. But He added that the second commandment "is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself’" (Matthew 22:34-40). The Pharisee had asked Him which single command of God is the greatest, but Jesus provided two, stating not only what we are to do, but also how to do it. To love our neighbor as ourselves is the natural result of our loving devotion toward God.

First John 3:17 asks, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" Originally made in His image, man is to exemplify God’s traits, including compassion. From this it follows that "If anyone says, ‘I love God’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20). The Bible is clear that compassion is an attribute of God and of God’s people as well.


More About Compassion

by: Allie Dart

Did you know the word compassion or compassions is mentioned some 41 times in the Bible? Compassion is sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

The Bible tells us that God is full of compassion. Isn't that a standard we should try to meet? Psalm 78:38, speaking of God, says "But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned his anger away and did not stir up all His wrath."

Even though God's own people, Israel, didn't believe him and didn't trust in his salvation, he was consciously sympathetic and had a desire to alleviate their suffering. Does the Holy Spirit in you cause you to have sympathy for others who are suffering and give you a desire to alleviate it?

I don't think God's compassion is an inactive noun. It is intended for us to show compassion by the things we do. It often requires more than just sending a card-it requires giving of yourself to alleviate another person's pain or suffering.

Wayne Hinton, a minister and very dedicated Christian friend sent the following list. Read it to find active ways you can show compassion-a way to give a little of yourself to alleviate someone's pain and suffering:

        1. Look after the kids
        2. Help with their parents
        3. Listen (very important!)
        4. Keep the person company (very important!)
        5. Help with rides to and from the doctor.
        6. Do laundry
        7. Provide meals
        8. Mow the lawn
        9. Take a walk with the person
        10. Grocery shop.

May you grow in compassion and become more like your Savior Jesus Christ.

Return to I.C.O.G. Articles Page

Go to ICOG Home Page