Bible Study on
Character - Compassion

This Bible study on compassion can be used by one person alone or in a small group. It is short (20 to 30 min.) but if you read each passage, reflect on it, and discuss it, you'll gain a good sense of what compassion really means, its demands, and its rewards.
Extending a helping hand

The definition of "compassion" in the dictionary is very short. It simply says that compassion means sympathetic consciousness of others' distress along with a desire to alleviate it.

This incident is true: Standing with his family in church, Bill recites the Lord’s Prayer. This is followed by some praise singing and then some announcements before the sermon, one of which is by an elder who is seeking to enlist some workers for an outreach project in the Bronx. Bill whispers to his wife, “Why do they interrupt the nice flow of our worship with such peripheral appeals?” What do you like (or dislike) about Bill's remark to his wife?

Read Luke 10:25-37 (The Parable of the Good Samaritan)

How would you describe the lawyer to whom Jesus told this story. Why do you think he wanted to “justify himself?” (Verse 10:29)

How might we explain the religious professionals’ (the priest and the Levite) lack of compassion for the beaten-up stranger?

It's easy to condemn the priest and Levite, but what if 300 people were gathered in a synagogue in the next town waiting for the priest and Levite to lead a service? And perhaps some of these people were hoping for spiritual healing from the priest.

Person with arm around another Where do you suppose that the Samaritan got his compassion for the victim?

Jews of that day despised Samaritans, who were half-breed of Jews who intermarried with pagans. So why do you think Jesus made the Samaritan the hero in this story?

According to this story, what does compassion look like?

There are more than 90 specific references to compassion in the Bible. Most Old Testament verses refer to the Lord's compassion toward His people and most New Testament version refer to Jesus' compassion on those in need. Let's look at just a few.
  • The Lord will always have compassion on us. (2 Kings 13:23, Nehemiah 9:27, Psalm 103:13, Isaiah 54:8) Does the Lord expect something from us in return?
  • Jesus felt compassion to those in need. (Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34, Mark 6:34, 8:2, Luke 15:20, etc.)
  • Those who walk with the Lord will have compassion. (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-13, Philippians 2:1-2, 1 Peter 3:8)
  • Compassion fulfills the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Think of a person you know who is in need. What tends to keep you and/or others from being compassionate to this person?

To do:
1. Pray specifically to become a person of greater compassion.

2. Seek to be a Good Samaritan to the person in need that you identified above.

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