Serving with Compassion

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  — Colossians 3:12 (NAB)

When we hear of someone who is suffering, we feel sorry for them; we have feelings of pity and empathy.  If someone loses a loved one, a job, has an incurable illness or accident, we feel these emotions.

But, are these emotions compassion or something else?

Compassion is literally defined as “to suffer together.” It is often described as “the heart that trembles in the face of suffering.” When we are compassionate we take on that suffering and are moved to relieve it.  Compassionate people have the ability to feel what others are feeling.  It may be because they know what it is like to suffer.  Compassionate people act on their kindness.

“[And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” — Ephesians 4:32 (NAB)

Compassionate people practice self-compassion as well. By being compassionate to ourselves we will be more successful in changing a bad habit, getting back to the gym, or eating a healthier diet. There are many health benefits from being a more compassionate person.  Studies have shown an increase in the hormones that counter aging and reduce stress.

What are some of the ways we can practice being a more compassionate person? How can increasing our compassion better help us serve others?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Act on your feelings of empathy and pity. When you hear of someone suffering have the courage to act on it. Try sending them a card or make a phone call and encourage them.
  • Practice random acts of kindness. Simple gestures like smiling, saying hello, and thank you, are a start.  Inviting someone to lunch or spending some one-on-one time with a suffering friend can work wonders.
  • Be kind. As the old saying goes, “Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Your showing compassion will help them open up and share what is on their hearts.
  • Be grateful. Being grateful for our blessings helps us to better serve those going through hard times. We all will experience tough times in our lives and our ability to cope is increased by our compassion for others.
  • Sometimes a hug will speak louder than anything you can say. Without a word, it says I’m here for you, I feel your pain and will do what I can to help.

As we seek to serve others as our Lord asks, let’s practice being compassionate people.  Let’s act on our feelings of empathy. It will be a blessing to the people we come in contact with and it will have many health benefits, as well.  Who can argue with that!

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