“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” – Colossians 3:12.

How do you know if you have a good relationship with someone? Your initial reaction may be to evaluate based on the presence or absence of conflict. But a lack of disagreement is not the true measure of a relationship. What about love, respect, and compassion to name a few. What do you think of when you hear the word compassion? And how does compassion fit into your life?

There is a story in Mark 5:1-20 that illustrates compassion. Jesus encounters a man “possessed by an evil spirit …This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. (Vs.2-5) 

After some exchange with the spirits, Jesus purged the man of the spirits. The man was rightly thankful. He wanted to accompany Jesus. Mark 5:19 says, “But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.”  Note the words, how merciful He has been. It reflects an action that issues from a compassionate and tender heart. It is just another example of our Savior’s love and compassion for the unfortunate and for the disenfranchised.

To live the home run life requires compassion. Compassion starts with empathy, or putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15). To be compassionate toward others, we need to allow time for the Holy Spirit to override our tendency to judge. Lastly, we need to recognize the barriers to showing compassion to others. It’s impossible to be annoyed and compassionate at the same time. Frustration, suspicion, irritation, bitterness, dislike and anger are all signs that we may be looking at others without compassion. We can pray to the Father to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” (Ephesians 4:31)

Our goal is to “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)  That is how we develop compassion and cultivate a spirit of compassion in our children.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In what situations is it easy to be compassionate? When is it difficult? Why?
  2. Do you judge others by higher or lower standards than you use to judge yourself?
  3. Is it important to maintain wisdom while being compassionate? Why or why not?
  4. What are some practical ways that we show compassion to our children and others this week?