Compassion, Empathy, and Love

Matt. 9:36 - "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (NASB)


What does it mean when God's word says Jesus had compassion upon the people? The Greeks and Middle Eastern cultures of the period believed emotions resided in the bowels. Grief, anxiety, happiness was felt in the intestines. Thus, "knotting up" or unwinding as feelings dictated a physiological response. The second most common meaning of compassion transliterated in Greek (Splagchnizomai) meant pity or today as most often referred to as "feeling sorry" for another.

There is much greater power and meaning in the first definition literally meaning "to be moved in one's bowels". Compassion denoted a "gut" reaction to an immensely moving situation or story. People said it "cut their intestines". The true understanding of the era meant to "suffer with".

God says Christ suffered with every person among the crowd. Imagine the Lord Jesus looking upon a widow with no means or job to care for herself. In the first century under Roman rule without alms given, left to die. A father with his family, knowing he does not bring in enough fish or crops to feed them.

As the verse points too, people lacking someone to care and look after them. What is the call? Simply to be as Christ; do we suffer others pain while moving in compassion to meet needs? Most importantly without neglecting physical and emotional necessities, do we suffer enough to move into the spiritual harvest as our Lord? Sharing in others pain and Christ's sufferings too?

Matt. 9:27, 28 - "Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (NASB)


Heb. 4:15 - "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."(NASB)

Sumpatheo is the Greek word for sympathize or be affected with the same feeling as another. In other words, are we empathic or able to literally have the feelings of another? Our High Priest bears them ... do we?

If He experiences the feelings of each person, can the Lord Jesus impart the feelings to us? Absolutely, if remaining available and allow. Walking in obedient oneness in Christ, he makes us into mighty intercessors. Able to stand in the gap and even lay our lives down for others.

An extremely tough question, am I willing? Thinking for a moment, does God not supply infinite power to endure and overcome? All while restoring and helping a weaker one whether from sin or from the effects of a fallen world. Pray to not only have the eyes and heart of the Father. Also, being of royal priesthood we intervene on behalf of others, helping carry their hurt, pain, and suffering.

Gal. 6:2 - "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." (NASB)


Heb. 13;2 - "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it" (NASB)

The Lord placed writing of these three attributes on my heart. My first thought on this last was, 'What more could I write about love not already said'? He answered in this passage. God confronted my belief of how incredible for angels to visit. Accompanied with a both a rebuke and affirmation to see as He.

Why would messengers of the Lord visit my home? The Spirit's answer from God's word:

I Pet. 1:12 - "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven - things into which angels long to look" (NASB)

Angels long to look into the indescribable and unconditional salvation love imparted to our lives in Christ. Those completely given over to walking in His love, angels marvel to learn of God Himself poured into our heart and lived out of a true disciple.

Why hold angels visiting as amazing when Jesus looks into my eyes each day. The person without food for two days, is their need met through me? The individual struggling, desiring the Son set them free as a captive from years of drug and alcohol addiction. Is the Potter offered use in any manner desired by the clay?

Though overwhelmed and all seeming "out of control" with work, school, extra-curricular activates, meetings, etc. Are a few moments demanded to extend a final act of kindness in Christ to the terminally ill during their final days?

The Spirit's word to my heart, 'What makes you believe it is so impressive for angels to visit your home? I look in your eyes and speak to you every day? Is it better to be visited by angels daily or see Jesus entreating participation to bring others into the Kingdom?'

It matters not if Christ lives in a mansion or underneath a bridge. Look right into Jesus' eyes as He sits on the other side of the table. Love Him with all your being.

Matt. 25: 40 - "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" (NKJV)

 Les Braswell
I have been a member of ChristianBlog.Com for 4 years, 6 months and 24 days.
I have published 272 blogs and 1,104 comments.
John Knox (@watchmanjohn)

This is a great blog.

Compassion - meaning a feeling in the gut. Science is now calling our 'gut' the second brain for both the gut and the brain are liked via the vegas nerve and both speak to each other, at times the gut controlling the brain.

Empathy - yes an intercessor can feel the agony of another person for he is after all feeling the compassion, empathy and grief of Christ for that person.

As I said - wonderful blog blessed much by it.


"Empathy, compassion, married with love, make care giving meaningful and joyful, not burdensome"... What a beautiful quote to highlight the attributes needed to be developed to "care give" in a Christ like manner.

As I think about this quote and how it ties in with your content, it seems to me that each of us who are Christians are to be "caregivers" (givers of "care") because of the emotional, physical, and spiritual sufferings that each of us will have; and in order for the help we receive to be "complete," empathy and compassion must be at the heart it. :heart:

Spiritual joy is the outcome of true empathy and compassion when we receive or extend those attributes to those in need of it, isn't it?

Very insightful, enlightening blog that the Holy Spirit has inspired you to write, Les. Thank you!


Beth M (@blest)


I love this blog!


As an aside, I had to smile when you mentioned "splagchnizomai". I remember years ago, hearing a teaching on "the bowels of compassion". It was an excellent teaching, snd the first time I ever heard the word "splagchnizomai". He defined it as "to be moved from within the most innermost part." (It's written in my Bible). Wonder what ever happened to that guy.

Oh yeah, I married him!

Great blog!

Niki Karkowski (@nikikar)

Les, I am sorry it's been such a long time. Your writing is beautiful as always but really touched me and I can relate it to what I am going through. The funny thing is that my mom and I were talking last about how God has given me the gift of compassion and empathy, she remembers since I little. It's a God thing that I read this today.

Thank you! Niki