Clothe yourselves with compassion. Colossians 3:12
Building benches isn’t James Warren’s job. He started building them, however, when he noticed a woman in Denver sitting in the dirt while waiting for a bus. That’s “undignified,” Warren worried. So, the twenty-eight-year-old workforce consultant found some scrap wood, built a bench, and placed it at the bus stop. It quickly got used. Realizing many of the nine thousand bus stops in his city lacked seating, he made another bench, then several more, inscribing “Be Kind” on each one. His goal? “To make people’s lives just a little bit better, in any way I can,” Warren said.
Compassion is another way of describing such action. As practiced by Jesus, compassion is a feeling so strong that it leads us to take action to meet another’s need. When crowds of desperate people pursued Jesus, “he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). He turned that compassion into action by healing their sick (Matthew 14:14).
We too should “clothe [ourselves] with compassion,” Paul urged (Colossians 3:12). The benefits? As Warren says, “It fills me up. It’s air in my tires.”
All around us are needs, and God will bring them to our attention. Those needs can motivate us to put our compassion into action, and those actions will encourage others as we show them the love of Christ.
When did you see a hurt or need that, with compassion, you helped solve? How did your compassion make you feel?
As I see pain and need, Loving God, soften my heart to act with Christlike compassion.
The word translated “compassion” in Colossians 3:12 combines two Greek words splanchnon (bowels) and oiktirmos (mercies). The King James Version translates these words as “bowels of mercies.” Literally, the words refer to bowels, intestines, or inner organs (heart, lungs, liver, etc.). Figuratively, they refer to tender emotions that compel kind, merciful, compassionate responses. As Christ’s representatives (v. 17), believers in Jesus are urged to “clothe” themselves “with compassion” (v. 12), along with other Christlike characteristics (vv. 12–14). The verb form (splanchnizomai) is used only in the Gospels to describe divine action (of God [or a figure representing Him] and Christ). “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were . . . like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). In Luke 15:20, the father represents God: “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son . . . and kissed him.”