Much has been said on the topic of compassion and we are not short of explanations of the need and benefits of living a compassionate life.
As I’ve written in other posts, the definition of compassion is to “suffer with” (passion = suffering, com = with). This means that compassion is about loving someone so much that we are moved to face their suffering with them as if we are the ones suffering.
We are very good at defeating suffering. A compassionate person is someone who helps others defeat their suffering as if it was their own.
This is a very unnatural way of living in our society that is obsessed with the self, self-amusement, self-protection, and self-promotion.
Yet compassion is at the very heart of Christianity. Jesus said,
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
He also said,
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Putting the ideas of these verses together: a Christian will be known for his extreme life-laying love for others.
This is what will identify us as Christians.
If this identifier is absent from our lives than it either means something is not right.
What a difficult identifier. People will know you are mine, not by your great achievements, great wealth, and great power, but your great sacrifice, great offering, and great service.
As I was taking a shower, I thought about the idea of compassion, to “suffer with”, and I was reminded of another verse in Matthew 1:23
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:23 NIV)
Immanuel: God WITH us.
The very first name after He given the name Jesus, the very first identifier He took, was this idea of compassion: God, Who is great, is WITH us, who need salvation.
The verse talks about a moment in the time of Isaiah in the Old Testament that when a prophecy is made, a promise of a great miracle (a virgin giving birth is a great miracle) and that miracle would bring forth Divine Compassion.
We can be compassionate because of Immanuel: God with us. And to truly show compassion is to bring others into this amazing relationship that they too may experience God with them.
And when I lose my patience and temper, as I am prone too, I stop and remind myself of Immanuel: God with us, and of another promise of His in Psalms 103:8
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
As I stay in the company of Immanuel, as I bask in grace, forgiveness, and love, I become something else, a true Christian, truly Christ-like, and I naturally become a sign of hope as I am identified with compassion, just as my Savior first made Himself identifiable by His willingness to suffer with me.