Joseph Iregbu

Purpose Guy

Why We Need A Radical Shift On Compassion

The sight of children in need of drinking water, medical care and basic education in remote parts of Africa, Asia and South America is common sight on TV. 

And sometimes, the images are so horrific we can barely watch, right?

So why do they show it? Because they understand the power of visuals and emotions, and how both can trigger a compassionate response. 

Our disconnect with the true meaning of compassion

Compassion is a powerful emotion but one that’s often not properly understood, embraced or expressed. 

In the Christian context, I’ve seen a disconnect between Christ-centred compassion and what we often demonstrate in practice. And I’m first to hold my hands up yes, guilty as charged. 

Helping the poor, giving to support under-privileged people groups and our generosity to missions are necessary acts of mercy. But what is our motivating drive and goal?

Unfortunately, we have fallen into the trap of becoming ‘public philanthropists’ by the lure of social media; every good deed ends up as an ‘Insta’ Reel or a Facebook Story

And there lies the disconnect for me; our inability to truly understand the underlying purpose for our acts of ‘compassion’. 

In everything you do, you must understand your WHY, not because you feel compelled to. 

And moreover, compassion doesn’t always have to be visible to the world.

Why our perspective on compassion needs a radical shift

The issue of compassion is fundamental to the Christian life. If we fail at this, we fail in our calling. 

John 3:16 affirms that God’s love for humanity was (and is) so great He gave us Himself through Christ. 

Notice something significant there; compassion moved Jesus to identify with and offer Himself for us, in a personal (not distant) way.

For Jesus, it was personal; He became man John 1:11,14. 

Our perspective on compassion needs a radical shift. Compassion is not merely a feeling of pity or sympathy for others’ plight. 

No, it’s more than that. Way more!

Compassion: ‘To Suffer Together’ or ‘Suffer With’

Did you know the literal meaning of compassion is ‘to suffer together’ or ‘suffer with’ others? 

And there goes the conundrum: 

You cannot feel or demonstrate deep compassion (beyond a sense of sympathy) until you’re confronted with the sufferings of others // Why We Need A Radical Shift On Compassion Click To Tweet

It is that sense of personal embrace of others’ suffering and sharing in their pain that deepens our compassion towards people. 

In its proper expression, compassion is not a hands-off affair. It’s not outside-in but inside out.

We must have a burning desire to suffer together with those we seek to lift. And together, we are called to feel, think and act in this way. 

Have the mind of Christ but also love like Him

In the Bible, Jesus was confronted with so many issues from diverse people.

But His response was always driven by His COMPASSION, even in overturning the tables of the money changers at the temple — Matthew 21:12-14, 9:36, 11:28-30, 15:32, 8:3, 14:14, 20:34, Mark 1:41, 6:34, 8:2-3, Isaiah 40:11.

Jesus ate with tax collectors, spoke with the woman at the well, rebuked the Pharisees, healed the sick and solved problems.

My point? Jesus was present in the moment. He did not only connect with the need but firstly the people, some in a very personal way.

Our acts of love must not be devoid of a personal connection with the people we seek to serve and help // Why We Need A Radical Shift On Compassion Click To Tweet

We cannot isolate compassion to the deeds. It’s primarily about people and God’s call on our lives to meet needs by identifying with the sufferings around us.

Have the mind of Christ but also love like Him.

Because before the deeds, we must be willing to suffer together with others.

Check out the latest episode on my podcast EP51: What If You Succeed? on AnchorSpotifyApple Podcast and everywhere you get your podcast.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

About Joseph Iregbu

From a homeless, near-school-dropout to living a story worth telling. Purpose is my passion. What's your story?

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