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The Gospel of Compassion


It might have been the perfect occasion to cheer up the fellow. Tell him everything will turn out alright.

Or to speak of God’s always good sovereignty.

Or to try to encourage him by reporting the story of a friend who had been in a similar situation and how things turned around for him.

But isn’t what he did wonderfully better?

Compassion. Sweet compassion.

You remember Jesus’ story:

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

Luke 10.33-35

The Gospel of Compassion. Empathy. Fellow feeling. So praise-worthy because God is the God of all compassion:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.

2 Corinthians 1.3

CompassionAs we have traveled this road of sorrow around our grandson Leo’s recent diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy, so many of you have been so kind, so loving, so prayerful. We are so grateful for your love for Leo, for Katie and Ed, us, and our family.

And so many of you have been the gospel of compassion to us, and to them.

You have cared for us so gently, “like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” 1 Thessalonians 2.7

You’ve wept with us as we’ve wept, Romans 12.15.

You’ve prayed that our tears would be turned into dancing, Psalm 30.5, Jeremiah 31.13.

I’ve understood afresh what brings comfort when troubles come, when life hurts.

And I’ve understood again what doesn’t bring much consolation when the bottom drops out.

Here’s where we have most felt God’s good news of compassion:

Hearts and words and acts that simply express “I’m so sorry.” Nothing more is needed. (What is more soothing to the sorrowful? What more shows our love?)

Your trust in God and us that what He’s already planted in our hearts about His love and power and plans won’t be forgotten. But right now a hug and empathy declare His goodness more than a systematic theology full of good truth. (There will be plenty of time, and need, to remind one another of the love of God demonstrated so amazingly in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.)

And like God, your words of identifying, of coming alongside us in our pain (think: incarnation) and feeling with us. In what is a somewhat mystifying and wonderful passage, Isaiah preaches the Gospel of Compassion, describing God’s feelings toward His children, “In all their distress He too was distressed.” (Isaiah 63.9, see also Exodus 2.23-25, Judges 10.16.)

Thanks for loving us so much. And loving each other so well, with the Good News of compassion.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.

In your times of trouble, how have God's people best shared the Gospel of Compassion with you?

1 Comment

The most precious memories of God's compassion in my life come from God's people loving me despite me. There have been many things about me that would make me unlikable, and I wouldn't blame anyone for moving on and writing me off as a lost cause. Yet I've encountered in my life time and time again a group of people known as the body of Christ, who have lived like their master and have helped open my eyes to a wonderful, compassionate, loving God, a God who loves you fully and completely no matter what.

See, there isn't something you can do or fail to do which will make God love any more or less. God is love and He loves! God loves us completely and infinitely just as we are. It's not that God loves some future version of ourselves more than He loves who we are right now. No matter what we do in the future or don't do His infinite love for us will remain unchanged. It is unconditional love! His love is not conditioned on us fixing up our lives!

It's this love that's been made evident in those people that have taken the courageous step of following Jesus wherever He leads, people that have followed Jesus not out of the world, but into the world. People that have been salt and light to a hurting world.

A rich man from Arimathea named Joseph asked for the body of Christ. I too ask our wonderful Lord and Savior that He continue to bless and prosper the body of Christ, His beautiful church.

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