We have an identity in Christ. An identity that is not based on what we are feeling or experiencing, but is found in who Jesus is and our relationship with Him.
In Christ, we are free. We are secure. We are new. We are victorious. We are pure. We are whole. We are strong. We are chosen. We are holy.
We are the beloved daughters of the Almighty God.
As children of the One True God, we have a calling in Jesus. God has a purpose for each of us that only we, through Him, can live out:
We are called to imitate God. To follow Christ’s example. To reflect Jesus as we live in love with Him, that others may come to know His love for them.
As we live in relationship with Jesus, daily knowing Him more, we discover our identity in Him. As we live in that identity, we live as who He created us to be. His character shapes our character, and we reflect Him in our interactions with others.
We truly live as Jesus’ beloved when His love directs our actions and attitudes.
Over the past several weeks, I wrote from Colossians 3 about our identity in Christ. Also found in Colossians 3 are characteristics of living loved. Characteristics that, when lived out in our day to day lives, reflect the perfect, loving character of Jesus.
The first characteristic we see is compassion. Compassion is an attitude of the heart. Compassion is seeing another’s need and having the desire to help them. A desire that drives us to action.
God is described as being full of compassion:
In the verses from Psalms, the word “compassion” comes from the Hebrew word racham. In the verse from 2 Corinthians, it comes from the Greek word oiktirmos. Both words speak of compassion that abides deep in the heart, within one’s very being. The sympathetic feelings are stirred by the sight of suffering and need, and come from a character that is already tender-hearted towards others.
God doesn’t see our suffering and needs, and then become compassionate. He is already compassionate, and therefore looks to our needs and acts on our behalf. God doesn’t need to have compassion awakened within Him. Compassionate is who He is; it is His very character.
So we don’t have to wonder if God will see us in the midst of our brokenness and hurts. We don't have to wish He might do something to help us. God is compassionate and is already looking, seeing, and working.
The Scriptures give us the picture of a parent’s compassion for their children to help us gain understanding of God’s compassion. A godly parent cares and provides for their children. They are constantly aware of the needs of their children, and are looking for ways to help and comfort.
God is the Father of compassion. His compassion is eternal and abundant. In His compassion, God comforts, heals, lifts burdens, rescues from oppression, provides for needs, gives justice, and hears our cries. (Exodus 22:22-27, Nehemiah 9:27-28, Isaiah 49:13, Matthew 14:14; 15:32)
According to Colossians 3:12, we are to clothes ourselves with compassion. Since we are children of the Father of compassion, compassion is to be a part of our character. We are to allow God to make our hearts tender to the needs and suffering of others, so that His compassion can flow through us and bring comfort, help, and justice to those around us.
We live compassionately whenever we see someone in need and choose to help, even in seemingly small ways; speaking up for those who are hurting and helpless, being a shoulder to cry on, serving others, giving a hug or a smile, helping someone with a simple task, speaking encouragement, praying for others, listening.
Jesus lived compassionately during His time on earth. In Matthew 14, we read of the miraculous event of Jesus feeding five thousand men, plus women and children, with just five loaves of bread and two fish. This is how that passage begins:
Jesus had just received word that His relative John, the man who baptized Him, had just been beheaded for his preaching against the sins of Herod the king. Jesus withdraws to a solitary place to grieve the loss of His friend and forerunner. But the crowd continues to follow Him.
Instead of becoming frustrated or annoyed at the intrusion upon His privacy, Jesus sees the crowd and has compassion on them. Mark’s telling of this event says, “He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mark 6:34) And Luke’s telling says, “He welcomed them.” (Luke 9:11)
In the midst of His own grief, Jesus recognized the need, the distress, the grieving, the sorrow, the pain, the hurt of all those in the crowd, and He had the desire to help them. He healed the sick. He taught. And when it got late in the day, He met a very basic need by providing them with food.
We are called to follow this example of Christ. To let the compassion of our Father awaken within us, stirring and softening our hearts to the need, distress, grieving, sorrow, pain, and hurt of others, filling us with a desire to help, and driving us to take action through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the strength of Christ.