“Passion” of Compassion

Compassion with passion is an unstoppable combination.

Compassion without passion is not complete.  Compassion is what makes us able to feel, to relate, and to understand another person’s challenges.  Compassion is what we learn when we try to walk in another person’s shoes.  Without compassion, this would be a scary world to live in. Compassion crafts our feelings, it moves our emotions, it even shapes our opinions and thoughts.  But compassion alone falls short of what we really need to live as people of God in this world.  Compassion needs passion to be complete.

If compassion drives how we feel, then passion is what puts us in gear.  Compassion connects us to someone’s experience, but passion moves us to do something about it.  While compassion makes us feel, passion makes us act.  We really need both.  Passion without compassion will drive us to actions without regard for others.  Compassion without passion will leave us feeling sorry, but doing nothing.

Four men had compassion for their friend.  He was paralyzed and needed help just to get around.  They felt sorry for him.  They wished he could walk, hold a job, get around on his own.  Their feelings for him ran deep.  One day their compassion was energized by passion.  They heard Jesus was in town and teaching in someone’s home.  Stirred by compassion and moved by passion, they lifted their friend on a stretcher and brought him to the home where Jesus was teaching.  It was so crowded they couldn’t get in.  Compassion alone may have allowed them to quit.  “I’m sorry, we can’t get in.  I feel so badly.  Let’s just go home.”  But compassion, fueled by passion, drove them to the roof where the gospel of Mark tells us they dug a hole and lowered their friend down to Jesus, stretcher and all (Mark 2:1-12).  In those days, a typical roof was made of a thick layer of clay, reinforced with matted branches and supporting beams.  They literally had to dig to make a hole big enough to lower their friend through.  This was hard work.  It required a high level of motivation and commitment, a level you can only reach when compassion and passion come together.

The word used here to describe the intensity of these men ‘digging’ through the roof is used in another place in the New Testament.  The apostle Paul had an ongoing affliction, one he wished God would deliver him from (2 Corinthians 12:7-8).  I believe it was serious eye trouble.  People in the Galatian church were moved by compassion for him; so much so, Paul said he thought they would ‘dig’ out their own eyes if they could, to give to him (Galatians 4:15).  Compassion makes you feel sorry for someone who might be going blind.  Passion makes you willing to do anything in your power to give them sight.

Compassion with passion is an unstoppable combination.  Jesus had compassion and passion.  Once, as Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem, he was moved to tears.  He knew the people of God were lost and wandering like sheep without a shepherd, and it touched his heart of compassion (Luke 19:41).  He wanted to gather the people in like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings (Luke 13:34).

He had passion, too.  He knew the people needed more than sympathy. They needed action.  Passion made him willing to do what was within his power to do.  As the time approached, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51) where crucifixion and death awaited him.  He gave his life for those he loved.

Compassion with passion changes the world.  The combination changes lives.  It changes you when you give yourself to it.


“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion…”

Colossians 3:12

Next Steps

  1. Compassion is a choice, like picking out clothing. As you dress in the morning, imagine you are putting on compassion.
  2. Make a list of causes, circumstances, and situations that move you or touch your emotions.
  3. Identify one item on the list you which would change if you could. (“If I could change one thing in this world I’d change_________”).
  4. Pray that God would engage your passion for the change you identified in #3.

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