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Compassion

vs. Indifference
Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others

Key Verse

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
I John 3:17

The operational definition of compassion is “investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.” When you see someone in pain, can you imagine how they are feeling, especially if something similar has happened to you? As you empathize with them, you not only see but also feel their sorrow. Who do you know that is hurting? How could you help ease someone else’s pain? You may see that your mom is tired and would appreciate help with preparing dinner. Your brother may have cut his finger and needs a Band-Aid. Your friend may have lost a loved one and would be comforted by receiving a sympathy card. Put yourself in the place of others. What if you were tired, or you cut your finger, or one of your loved ones had passed away? What would you desire others do to comfort you? Look beyond yourself and consider how someone else is feeling. Being moved to help ease their pain is compassion. Is your heart tender to notice those in need, and are you then willing to give whatever it takes to bring healing?

The Red Cross was born from a desire to relieve the pain and misery of wounded soldiers. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
“Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13).

The opposite of compassion is indifference. Indifference is exhibited when you are unconcerned and not stirred by the suffering of others. If you do not care enough to want to help in some way, examine your heart and ask the Lord to give you His love for others. “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (I John 3:17). As you experience the depth of God’s mercy in your own life, your love for Him will grow, as will your desire to share His love with others through compassionate words and actions.

Evaluation Questions

  • When you hear of someone else’s suffering, do you imagine yourself in his place and try to understand how he may feel?
  • Do you seek the Lord’s leading in relieving the hurts of those around you?
  • Do you regularly pray for those who are ill, suffering, bereaved, or persecuted?
  • When a neighbor has a need, do you offer to help, while secretly hoping he will not call? Or do you sincerely ask, “How can I help you?”
  • What resources or skills do you have that could help meet someone else’s need?
  • How does your family speak up for the unborn, the elderly, or the otherwise helpless?
  • Who was the last person that requested your help, and how did you respond?
  • What are ways you can show compassion to a family grieving over a lost loved one?
  • Is there someone with recurring problems whom you find yourself avoiding? How can you help that person find a long-term solution?

More About Compassion

“We will never know by experience God’s richest blessings of comfort and compassion toward others until we ourselves have had trials.”
T. J. Bach
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Compassion with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:

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Know the extent of His mercy.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” LAMENTATIONS 3:22–23
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Intercede on behalf of the hurting.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” JAMES 5:16
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Be ready to help.

“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” TITUS 3:1–2
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Comfort others without prejudice.

“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” MATTHEW 5:46–48
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Look for lasting solutions.

“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” ACTS 3:6–8 “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.” PROVERBS 20:4
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Give of my resources to help those in need.

“If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” DEUTERONOMY 15:7–8
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Feel others’ pain.

“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” HEBREWS 13:3
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Be an advocate for the helpless.

“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.” PSALM 82:3–4
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Get involved.

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” PROVERBS 3:27
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Heal hurts.

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” JAMES 2:15–17

Compassion in Scripture

A Traveler Provides for a Helpless Stranger

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”
Luke 10:33–34
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, most Jews and Samaritans avoided each other because they were not friends. In fact, Jews and Samaritans despised each other! Once Jesus’ disciples entered a Samaritan village to prepare for Him to visit there. However, the villagers would not receive Jesus. The disciples reacted in anger! Some wanted to destroy the Samaritans with fire, but Jesus rebuked them. His mission was to save lives, not to destroy them. Another time a Samaritan woman was surprised that Jesus, a Jew, spoke to her. Yet, He cared for her and continued to talk with her. Amidst this time of contention between the Jews and the Samaritans, a Jewish lawyer stood up to ask Jesus a question about eternal life. Jesus wisely asked the lawyer what was written in the Law. The lawyer replied that the Law commanded people to love God and their neighbors. In order to assure himself that he was keeping the Law, the lawyer asked Jesus another question: “And who is my neighbour?” This time, Jesus answered with a story. What story did He tell? How would He use the unfriendliness between Jews and Samaritans to answer the lawyer’s question? Who in the story would compassionately give his resources to help another person in need?

Revealed in Nature

Zebra

A herd of zebras will slow their pace when one member is injured so they can stay together while the wounded member recovers. If one of the herd ever goes astray and is lost, the rest of the group will spend many days looking for it.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Learning compassion helps children to empathize with those who are hurting and manifest God's love to relieve their pain.

View the Compassion booklet sample:

Get the complete Compassion booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Compassion

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
One reason for pain is to help us have compassion on others with similar hurts.
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