The Compassion of Our Heavenly Father
Our greatest example of compassion in the Bible is our Heavenly Father. Psalm 86:15 says, "But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."
Several times in God’s Word, we see the image of God protecting the Israelites in the shadow of His wings, like a mother bird protecting her hatchlings. For example, Psalm 57:1 says, "Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wing until the disaster has passed."
God’s compassion is infinite and eternal. In fact, his compassions are new every morning. They never fail (Lamentations 3:22-23). God comforts his people with compassion.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, exemplified compassion during his ministry on earth. One of the most poignant examples of compassion in the Bible is when Jesus showed compassion at the grave of Lazarus. When Jesus saw Lazarus’ friends weeping, he wept alongside them (John 11:33-35).
Over and over, our Lord Jesus Christ felt compassion on people, healing them and comforting them. He saw the large crowd as sheep without a shepherd and he came to give them purpose and shelter.
As the Son of God, Jesus possessed more than we can ever imagine. Even so, he gave up everything, voluntarily and selflessly sacrificing himself for us so that we can have eternal life. In that sacrifice, we see the greatest example of compassion in the Bible!
Responding to the Compassion in the Bible
The stories of compassion in the Bible should motivate us to put compassion into action.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:36-39).
This means that compassion is not just an attribute of God, but also a quality of his people.
1 John 3:17 says, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" This means that love is not in words or speech. It is displayed in actions and in truth. He says that love is active, not just felt, thought or spoken.
When others may keep their distance from those who are suffering, godly compassion prompts us to act on the behalf of the hurting. When we see people who are poor, lacking basic necessities, or are fatherless, we are called to show mercy through compassionate action.
As we consider the compassion God has shown to us, we can respond with compassion to those around us.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." — Ephesians 4:32.
1 Peter 3:8 is one of the most well-known Bible verses about compassion: "Be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble." We can practice compassion in everyday life.
How to Act Compassionately
Every day, millions of children in poverty around the world experience compassion from God’s family as they participate in our Child Sponsorship Program.
At the child development centers run by our frontline church partners, children in poverty receive health care, food and clean water, learn income-generating skills, and most importantly hear the gospel and have the opportunity to give their lives to Christ.
When you sponsor a child, you are personally connected with a boy or girl who will know your name, cherish the thought that you care for them, and benefit from your compassion.
Through your prayers, financial support and letters, you can show a child in poverty how valuable he or she is and how much God cares.