Introduction: Prov. 11:17 (The Bible teaches we should be merciful, compassionate. This is better for us, it makes us better, happier people. Many acknowledge the need to be compassionate, but fail to understand godly compassion. What some mistakenly call compassion may actually be cruel.)

1. Defining Compassion:

    A.Mercy: Mt. 5:7 (The word "mercy" in scripture means, "kindness toward human wretchedness, coupled with an impulse to relieve it". This reveals two basic elements to compassion. First, kindness toward others. Second, doing what you can to offer real solutions to peoples problems.)

    B.Relieve Problem: Mt. 9:36-37 (Christ expressed his compassion by seeking to supply these people's spiritual needs. Compassion sometimes involves offering hard solutions to unpleasant problems.)

    C.Four Steps: Exo. 3:7-8 (God reveals his compassion for Israel in four steps; note problem, listen, understand, and relieve.)

    D.Doesn't Exclude Consequences: Lam. 3:32-39 (God's compassion does not keep him from punishing sinners. Compassion does not mean overlooking offense. Illustrate with mother pushing kid in parking lot, not to hurt him but to save his life.)

    E.Other Thoughts: Lk. 10:33-34 (The Samaritan's compassion was expressed in terms of tangible relief.) Ps. 86:15 (Compassion is equated with patience and mercy and truth.) Ps. 78:38 (Compassion can involve holding back anger.) Prov. 16:6 (Compassion seeks to remove sin, not excuse it.)

2. Developing Compassion:
    A.The Golden Rule: Mt. 7:12 (You can develop a more compassionate attitude by considering how compassionate you want God to be with you.)

    B.Based On Other's Effort: Mt. 15:32 (Jesus felt compassion, not just because these people were hungry, but because their hunger resulted from following him. Illustrate with teaching "bumping" the grade for a student who's really trying.)

    C.Remember Your Sin: Heb. 5:1-2 (The priests maintained compassion by sacrificing for their own sin before attending to other's sins. You can develop more compassion in dealing with other people's sin by remembering your own weaknesses.)

3. Putting Compassion Into Practice:
    A.Not Enough To Feel Compassion: Prov. 27:5 (Quietly feeling pity for others is not compassion. You must put your feelings into action, even if it means rebuking others.)

    B.Forgive: Mt. 18:27, 33 (Practice compassion by forgiving others when they repent.)

    C.Restore: Gal. 6:1-2 (Real compassion is expressed by helping others overcome sin, not by excusing sin.)

    D.Discipline: Heb. 12:6, 11 (Parental compassion is expressed in discipline, punishment, not laxness.)

    E.Not Just Doing Favors: Num. 11:14-17 (Moses begged to die. God's compassion didn't just do Moses that "favor". Instead, he helped Moses improve the situation. Compassion might lead you to refuse another's request. That is not cruel, it is in their best interest. Illustrate with wino begging for alcohol.)

Conclusion: (Many today grossly misunderstand compassion. You need to have the kind of compassion taught in scripture; kindness toward others who sin, but don't just overlook the sin. Try to help them overcome it.)