What does it mean to be compassionate?
It is a sympathetic pity and concern for the suffering or misfortune of others. Compassion literally means to suffer together. In the original Greek of the New Testament, spalgchizomai meant a visceral, gut-wrenching emotional response that was so strong, it physically moved people to action.
Knowing what is happening in our world today, what kind of action can we take?
“The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never ceases for his compassions never fail, they are new every morning.”Lamentations 3:22
Compassion is not just an attribute of God but it is the blueprint for his people. In Ephesians, God call for us to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as God forgave you.”
If I had a word that could sum up what the church needs for one another right now it would be compassion. The word sounds so simple – I know for myself I use this word frequently in my everyday conversations. I think compassion is the most accurate word to describe what we need for one another right now. If you look at all Scripture together, you have a breathtaking, beautiful definition of the word compassion – it is an action, a tangible expression of love for those who are suffering.
In 1 Peter 3:8, Peter tells the church to, “be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” One of the best ways we can be there for our brothers and sisters in Christ is by listening with ears that are empathetic. We don’t want a create a culture of “I’ll pray for you;” and letting that be the prayer. This is being aware of pain, oppression, and adversities that may not be familiar to you.
I think some ways the body of Christ can implement showing compassion in a tangible way is by being involved with organizations that center racial reconciliation, hearing your BIPOC members and respecting new language that eradicates prejudices and years of teaching that we must unlearn. You can also follow social media pages, read articles and books written by people of color who are able to give insight, wisdom, and resources to white Christians. I have friends and church members who continue to show compassion to me through these examples, and are being the example to their children of what that looks like from a biblical stance.
I can be honest and say it is easier said than done. It is so much more comfortable to turn a blind eye, or even stand on “God knows my heart.” I can also say, though, that being willing to have uncomfortable conversations is a start many underestimate.
With all of this, I pray we take the necessary steps to show compassion through Christ in the church.