A God of compassion.
The God of the Bible is a God of compassion. He is a God of grace, love, and mercy. John 3:16 could read, “Since God had compassion on the world that he gave his one and only son…” God is so loving and it is so part of his nature that John describes Him in I John 4:8 as being love. From Old Testament through the New Testament we see the same theme that the one true God is a god of compassion. He is not only angry or indifferent like the other gods of pagan religions, he generally cares for His people.
In the OT we this in places like Psalm103:13 where it says, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” In Lamentantions 3:22 it says, “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies (or compasion) never come to an end.” In the NT James (5:11b) writes, ” you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” God’s compassion was never more perfectly shown than in the way it was revealed and manifested in Jesus Christ.
Repeatedly through out the gospels we find that Jesus looked on the crowds and was moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36, Mark 6:34 & 8:2 just to name a few.). In what might be the greatest story ever told about the love of God, known as t’he Prodigal Son’ (Luke 15), Jesus says that after the son who had rebelliously left his father, wasted all of his inheritance, experienced total loss, and deciding to return home, was welcomed home by his father who, “saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” This is the love that our God has for us!
A people of compassion?
Since God is a God of compassion and we belong to Him having His spirit placed in us, then we should be a people of compassion. Colossians 3:12 tells us “as God’s holy ones” to “put on compassion”. Since we have been born again, given a new nature, and are being shaped into the image of Christ, then we too should be compassionate. The problem is, many of us are not. Many in the church look more like Jonah than we do Jesus. What do I mean by that?
Jonah was a prophet of God who was sent to the wicked people of Ninevah. They were cruel, evil, and ruthless pagans. Jonah was to bring a message of destruction to them, but Jonah didn’t want to go. He goes the complete opposite direction of Ninevah, where God sends a storm while he is on the boat. He is thrown overboard where he is swallowed by a big fish, and after several days inside the nasty, smelly belly he decides he better go to Ninevah. Three days he walks the streets of Ninevah proclaiming this message of destruction, and the strangest thing happens. The people of Ninevah all the way to the king repent. God being a God of compassion and mercy spares them from destruction! This is good news right? We should all be excited shouldn’t we?
Not Jonah. He is angry with God because he has spared Ninevah. Matter of fact he is so angry he says that he would rather die. He tells God, “this is why I didn’t want to go. I knew you were merciful and loving, and I knew you would do something like this.” Rather than being thankful that God showed compassion and mercy, Jonah was furious that God didn’t destroy this city full of wicked people. Jonah forgot, that before God saved him, he was just as lost a the people of Ninevah. Jonah forgot that just a few days prior, that God had to send a storm and fish to get his attention for being disobedient.
If anyone in the world should show compassion, it should be those of us who are born again. None of us deserve salvation and if it wasn’t for God’s grace, none of us would have it; so how dare we who have experienced God’s compassion and mercy, not extend it to others? Are you more like Jesus or Jonah? Or God is compassionate, are we compassionate?