Last year, I met a faithful young mother outside Santa Cruz, Bolivia, who is a volunteer at a Compassion center. She served young and pregnant mothers suffering through harrowing circumstances.
This volunteer’s selflessness deeply moved me. Because even as she was giving of her time, energy and talents to make an impact in these mothers’ lives, she herself had recently been thrown out of her own home. Living out of a rented room, she was struggling to find a way to care for her own three little ones.
Yet, in spite of her circumstances, she was reaching out her hand to others. What a beautiful example of the faithful serving the weak.
What inside this mother compels her to help others? How does God catalyze us into action?
God works through willing people whom He moves with compassion.
The Bible refers to this as “splagchnizomai.” Splagchnizomai is a Greek verb meaning “to be moved from the bowels,” which is a Jewish idiom meaning “to be moved with compassion.” It was believed that the bowels were the seat of emotions like love and pity.
It’s a spiritual move that God brings about deep inside us – a move so strong and convicting that we can’t help but take action.
Compassion is a verb. God’s love in action.
Meeting people who God has moved with compassion touches me every time for four reasons:
- They’ve opened their heart to a need God has exposed them to.
- They’ve chosen to take personal initiative using their skills, gifts, talents or influence.
- They’ve formed meaningful connections with others who share their heart.
- They are being transformed on the inside as they work in Jesus’ name.
Jesus was moved in this way when he saw specific needs around Him.
- “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
- “So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.” (Matthew 20:34)
In the same way, we are to be moved.
- “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
- “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” (Luke 10:33-34)
I think of a preacher from Chicago in the 1950s who saw the ravages of the Korean war. In the war-torn alleys of Seoul, he saw orphans huddled in rags trying to keep warm in the bitter cold through the night. In the morning, soldiers would come, shaking the piles of rags looking to see who did or did not make it through the night. Those who didn’t survive were thrown into the back of their truck and whisked away.
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As this man sat on the plane home to Chicago reflecting on the tragedies he’d witnessed, God moved his broken heart with compassion. He knew he had to do something. This man was Everett Swanson, founder of Compassion International.
Because Everett Swanson experienced compassion as an action, not just a feeling, our organization has been able to work in more than 40 countries to release millions of children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
Are your eyes open to see the need around you? In your family, your neighborhood, your church, your city, your country, your world?
Is your heart open to be moved with compassion?
The thing is, we are all made for this. Despite our imperfections, we are made for this. God’s supernatural work being done through imperfect people. Amazing.
This is the 10th anniversary of celebrating the discipline of choosing one word to inspire our year here on the Compassion Blog. So it’s fitting that in 2018, we focus on the word “compassion,” with a small c. The verb of compassion.
Will you pray for this move of compassion? (Matthew 9:38)
Need more inspiration, check out the last 10 years of ONE WORDS!