How To: Be Compassionate

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. After sending away the crowds, he got into a boat and went to the region of Magadan.

Matthew 15:32-39

Another feeding miracle, but this time there are seven baskets left over. The number seven has always been an important number in Christian and Jewish history, though I couldn’t tell you why. Possibly because it took God seven days to create the world. I’m know Biblical scholar, I don’t really know.

I notice, however, that this time Jesus takes the time to explain why He has compassion for the people. Not just that He knows they’re hungry, which itself is not a particularly fun feeling, but He knows the results of their hunger might have on their lives. They might faint. This is how Good thinks of all our needs, I think. Not only how they make us feel now, but of the impacts they might have on our future. And that’s how we can be sure He is protecting us from any possible pitfalls: He has foreseen them all! He thinks more of our futures than we do, just as Jesus thought more of the crowd’s hunger than they did. And just like Jesus did, God is going to take care of us.

This is also a great model of compassion. I would suggest this passage to anyone who struggles with feeling compassion for others. Jesus shows exactly how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and what that train of thought looks and feels like. He also shows the appropriate way to respond to your compassion. Remember, we are always trying to be more like Jesus!

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