We all know how good compassion makes us feel and how compassionate responses to others can build relationships.
Compassion is a universal language that builds bridges and conveys value and meaning. Everyone benefits when compassion is expressed. Compassion literally means “to suffer together” and not only includes feeling the suffering of others but taking action to alleviate it. Compassion is what builds the connection to others by not only stating that you care but by actually showing how much you care. When real help is given, a bridge of value and meaning begins to develop as needs are met and people are cared for.
Jesus spoke the language of compassion and built gospel bridges to people by proclaiming the good news of his kingdom and healing them. Matthew 9:36 also tells us that, “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (NIV). Jesus’ compassion not only moved Him to bring hope and healing but also in a protective way. He stood up for those who had no voice in society as well as those who were harassed and helpless. He knew that he could bring value and meaning to them if he could develop a relationship with them. His compassion toward them was a part of his invitation to a relationship.
We like it when people are compassionate to us, don’t we? I have noticed that the care I receive gives me energy and shows me that I am not alone. Compassion from others invites me to put down my defenses and let them into my life.
Jesus calls us to be compassionate to the people around us. In fact, Jesus recognized that compassionate workers were far and few between. He stated in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (NIV). If we changed the wording a bit to get at the bridge-building nature of this passage, we could read Jesus’ words this way – “The harvest is plentiful but the compassion needed to work in the field is lacking. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out compassionate Christians into his harvest field.”
As Christians, we are called to express our faith through compassionate interactions with others. We all know how good compassion makes us feel and how compassionate responses to others can build relationships. Jesus is asking us to do what we already know how to do in order to show people His love for them – treat people with kindness and act to meet their needs. When people ask you why you are so kind, caring, or compassionate, you can tell them that all you are trying to do is treat others the way that Jesus has treated you – to pay forward His compassion in a world that desperately needs it.
That’s a bridge we can all build for the sake of the gospel.