Is Compassion the Missing Virtue in Your Life?

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Written by Jimmie Burroughs Email to a friend

Is compassion the missing virtue in your life? If so you are missing many powerful benefits. It is certainly one of the greatest tenants of personal development. According to scientific studies, there are physical benefits — people who practice compassion produce 100 percent more DHEA, the  hormone that slows the aging process, and 23 percent less cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Wow, that alone is worth learning more about compassion.

The Bible has much to say about the power of compassion; the following is just one example: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort,” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.

The definition of compassion: “Compassion is an emotion that is a sense of shared suffering, most often combined with a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another; to show special kindness to those who suffer. Compassion essentially arises through empathy, and is often characterized through actions, wherein a person acting with compassion will seek to aid those they feel compassionate for.

Compassionate acts are generally considered those which take into account the suffering of others and attempt to alleviate that suffering as if it were one’s own. In this sense, the various forms of the Golden Rule are clearly based on the concept of compassion.

Compassion differs from other forms of helpful or humane behavior in that its focus is primarily on the alleviation of suffering.” -Wikipedia

Someone rightly said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

The book of Job, in the Bible, is considered to be the oldest writing of the Bible. Job was indeed an unusual person. He garners the greatest complement known to man, and the source of his complement makes it incredible: And the Lord said unto Satan; Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8).

How did Job gain so many honors in God’s sight? Let him answer for himself. The following was the reply Job gave to his accusers who said that he was a sinful man: (my paraphrase)

  • I helped the poor and orphans, and those who had no other to help them.
  • I helped the widows and those who were dying.
  • I helped the blind and the lame.
  • I defended against the wicked and recovered what they had stolen.
  • I shared my food with those who were hungry.
  • I provided clothing to the poor. (Job 29:12-17; 31:16-22)

Job’s secret was his compassion for others. Compassion, according to the Bible, brings great benefits to those who show it:

“Blessed [happy] is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed [happy] upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.” Psalm 41:1-3)

Jesus was talking to his disciples, and he made a strong point that the way we treat others, whether with compassion or otherwise, is how we also treat him:

Then the King [The Lord] will say to those on his right [His disciples], ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Mathew 25:32-40)

If you desire happiness, and surely all of us do, then compassion is one of the greatest tools. That is a great incentive for each of us to cultivate compassion and practice it consistently.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, we are shown the ideal of compassionate conduct. According to the Gospels, compassion should extend to everyone, even to one’s enemies.

Finally, we all need honestly to answer that question: “Is compassion the missing virtue in your life?” Compassion is one of the noblest of virtues; it is what makes life worthwhile— it embodies what is called the golden rule, Do to others what you would have them do to you” which is the cornerstone and foundation of the greatest of social interconnection.

 About the author: Jimmie Burroughs is a motivational speaker and author who has been involved in teaching Christian Personal Development for more than 30 years. There are hundreds of articles to help you on this website, Website Contents , in your personal growth.

© 2011 Jimmie Burroughs. All rights reserved

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