I sent my daughter, Charity, an email with some of my initial research on compassion. I wondered how it is different from love, as these are two distinct words in the Greek New Testament. I included several definitions from the Greek, but it still wasn’t really clear. Below is some of the awesome revelation she shared with me on her understanding of love vs. compassion. Looks like the surf’s up!
“The kingdom of heaven is like…”
Jesus used natural things in our physical world to describe spiritual realities all the time, so I’m going to use the carrier wave/ocean of love picture and build on it.
Everything in the physical came from the spirit realm and what is in each of the realms has a corollary in the other (Heb. 11:3).
Pictures are the language of the heart, and we want more and more to connect with kingdom emotions that flow up through our hearts, so let's try to picture it this way...
It’s as if the spirit realm is an ocean. The land is our natural, physical world and the shoreline is the border between the two dimensions. I had said before it was an ocean of love and the wave was love that carried the power to us, but I want to amend that slightly and offer a distinction between the ocean of love and the waves of compassion.
What’s love got to do with it?
Love can be somewhat static at times. Love, like an ocean, can be still and calm. It can just BE. We can say we love someone, but it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily planning to move heaven and earth for that person. It’s “just” love. And surely the writers of the Bible had experienced love. They loved God, they had wives and kids – they knew what love is. Agape, eros, phileo – they had a lot of good love words. But, whatever they knew about love before was not sufficient to describe what they saw in Jesus. They felt the need to coin a new word form, splanka, to describe the emotion they saw come upon Jesus and move Him to action. Wow!
Of course love is wonderful and we should love people constantly (in that we’re always kind and patient and preferring others before ourselves). But we feel and are moved by compassion not as constantly. Love can just be, but compassion can’t. Compassion moves. So in the ocean of love, it’s the compassion that moves. It’s compassion that is the waves.
What’s up with the waves?
Waves speak of flow and current and intensity. Waves move, by definition. They don’t stand still. Same with compassion. Compassion moves, by definition. It can’t be still. It always says Jesus felt compassion and that He was moved by compassion. Compassion is different from love, because compassion always always moves us to act, to minister, to help meet a need. Love is always there, but compassion is over and above and more intense than love. In your research it said how it’s a “very forceful term”. It’s unmistakable in its intensity that moves us to action.
We saw that when we looked at the 12 verses, noting that Jesus saw a need, was moved with compassion – and then acted. But it’s even bigger than compassion moving Him to heal people. It’s actually incredible because… He wasn’t just moved with compassion and then healed. He was moved with compassion – and then did everything. That was His entire, exclusive, only motivation for ministry. He didn't do anything outside of it!
Is it really that big a deal?
We know Jesus worked healing miracles out of compassion. But He also showed mercy ministry (like the Good Samaritan) – out of compassion. He ministered deliverance – out of compassion (Mk. 9:22). He administered practical needs ministry of feeding the hungry – out of compassion (Matt. 15:32). He even spoke and taught the multitudes – out of compassion (Mk. 6:34).
That pretty much covers every type of “ministry” we should be doing! From healing to teaching to deliverance, all out of divine feelings. Because He was moved by compassion. God Emotion.
It's been said that "compassion" has “messianic significance for it is only Jesus who shows compassion”. I agree with the first part of that, but not the rest of it, “in each case what we have is not so much the description of a human emotion (that much is true!) but a messianic characterization.”
It’s not a messianic significance or characterization in that it’s only Jesus who can and should and could experience compassion. He’s the example and showing us how it’s done. The Son of God became the Son of Man so that sons of men might become sons of God. As children of the Spirit we are moved by what moves God. We want to live out His divine emotion (which is what the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, etc).
As rage is to hatred…
Compassion moves – it moves us and it moves through us. It causes us to take action and DO. Considering the opposite of it might help make the distinction between love and compassion easier to see. For example, hatred. Someone might say they hate somebody, but they might not do anything about it.
But what about rage? If that person doesn’t just hate, but is enraged – he is moved to action. Rage moves you. Just like compassion, it is a spirit level emotion and people who are moved upon by rage DO stuff. They throw things. They beat people up. They murder. That is an emotion down deeper than our own hearts. Hatred is like love, we can just have it in our hearts. Rage is like compassion – it comes up into us from the spirit realm. It comes upon us, and it moves us.
Coming against or coming alongside
The other thing about rage is that it’s always “against” something. Rage against a spouse or parent, etc. It pits you up against someone. Again, that’s a great picture to understand the opposite of it, because compassion puts you in agreement with. Just like the accuser of the brethren comes against, the Holy Spirit comes alongside. And so we just want to come alongside whatever God is doing, by coming into agreement with whatever He’s feeling. We feel His emotions and agree with them and align ourselves with them by letting them flow freely through us.
That‘s the other exciting thing too, in that it’s something done to us. It’s a God Emotion that comes over us, or more specifically, it rises up from within us, like a flood. Just like it is God who is at work in us to will and do His pleasure, just like it is Holy Spirit who is transforming us as we behold with unveiled face the glory of the Lord, just like it is the love of God that compels and controls us. It is the divinely spirit-realm initiated emotion of compassion that moves us.
Can we love enough?
We don’t muster it up. We can’t! Obviously we would never try to work really hard and muster up enough power in our hands to go heal blind eyes. We know that’s outside of what we can do in and of ourselves. However, quite often we are tempted to try and “muster up” love for people, to try in our own selves to love enough to release a blessing to them. But we can’t muster up compassion any more than we can strive to work a power miracle of healing.
It’s outside of us. It’s done to us. It comes upon and moves up through us. Only after we have been moved upon, are we then moved to action and the miracle is released. So to live like Jesus means we are moved by compassion, and everything we do for ministry is out of that God Emotion.
Where's the kingdom of God?
The innermost being speaks of the belly, the womb, the matrix. Lower than our hearts. Not in our chests, but down even deeper. The kingdom is within (Lk. 17:21).
Our spiritual heart might be near where our physical heart organ is, and this may be where Holy Spirit is even joined to our spirit. But He’s bigger than that. And so while He is there, one with our heart, He also goes down deeper into our belly, behind the navel. It’s in that place there is a spiritual umbilical cord to the heavenly dimension, to the spirit realm. It’s down deep, where the innermost being is, and that is the portal and connecting place from our physical selves out to the spirit realm.
I was encouarged when I heard an excellent teaching by the late prophet Bob Jones who had a similuar understanding of the kingdom within, which I took as great confirmation.
The splanka definition makes it clear that it is not an emotion that originates with us. It’s God's compassion and His mercy. It originates in the very heart of God, in the spirit realm. And then it comes to us, and explodes into our physical atmosphere, through where? Our innermost being. Down deep inside, in our belly (Jn. 7:37-39).
And when God Emotion from the heavenly atmosphere explodes into our world, that moment of impact could very well be described as a “striving of the bowels, a yearning of the innermost nature”. God Emotion invading a human body is a dramatic thing. It MOVES you. It makes some people fall over. Or tremble. Or laugh. Or cry. But when you get good at flowing with it, riding on it, and living out of it like Jesus did, it moves you to ministry action.
Is compassion a sovereign move of God within, or can we learn to surf these waves?
So we understand that Jesus didn’t just heal out of compassion, but that He actually did everything out of it, exclusively. All ministry originated from an emotion divinely initiated by Father God Himself. So what then, if it’s a sovereign moving upon by God, what are we supposed to do? What part do we play in the miracle? Let's revisit our surfing analogy…
When you are beginning to learn how to surf it can be challenging to position yourself correctly to catch the waves. As you’re just starting out, you realize you have never strived in your own strength, never felt your own weakness in relation to a force larger than you, than when you have jumped on your surfboard at the edge of the ocean and tried to paddle out away from the shore in big waves. You fight through surf that is rolling and crashing on top of you pulling you back towards land, and at first it can seem so futile and take every ounce of focus and strength you have.
And that can speak to a lot of different things. But one is, when we’re going against the purposes of God or whatever He’s wanting to do in a situation, it’s impossible. The thing about waves is that it’s all about their flow, their direction, their intensity, their movement. So compassion speaks of the intensity of God Emotion too, as it crashes against the shores of our physical existence. But as impossibly difficult as it is to fight against those waves, there is nothing more beautiful or peaceful or amazing as when you’re flowing WITH the waves. It’s a force so much greater than you carrying you, doing the all the work. It’s riding those powerful waves of the spirit. The waves of compassion.
So how can we flow with God’s compassion?
We need to get out into the quiet place of the spirit/ocean. At the shoreline, it’s loud and waves are crashing and it can be chaotic. But if you can get out away from just the natural world and quiet down into your spirit and connect with The Spirit in the spirit realm, that’s like you’ve paddled your board out through the surf and you’re on the other side of the waves and you’re just hanging out in the ocean.
Now, you can actually sit on your board for as little or as long as you want, resting and getting strengthened and refreshed before you decide to turn your board around and head back to shore. It’s kind of like Hebrews 4:11, we “labor to enter into rest.”
Like Jesus going off to the lonely places to pray and spend time communing with the Father. If even the Son of God needed to have quiet times, how much more so do we! So we can take a long time relaxing out in the ocean of God’s spirit and soaking up all that is there for us. We are focused away from shore then, as we’re face to face with God. But then, once we’re sufficiently refreshed, we turn our boards around and we’re ready to face man and the natural world and share with them what we’ve received from God.
So compassion is a wave, and it’s not constant. It kind of waves, and then dissipates; rolls in big, and then away. So it’s not a constant wall of wave, but it IS constantly waving. It is consistent and continual in its waving. Same with God’s compassion. It is not like just because it’s a sovereign divinely-initiated God Emotion, that then it’s random or few and far between in it’s coming upon us and waving. No, God’s waves of compassion are always there, always flowing. It’s just about us getting ourselves in position in order to ride the wave well, all the way to the shore.
How do we position ourselves to ride His wave?
We need to line ourselves up with the wave. We need to come into alignment and into agreement with what is already taking place. With what God has already begun to do and how He is already moving. It’s easy to see it when we’re in the spirit, and so we say yes to that and agree with that. We align ourselves with the forces of God Emotion that are already flowing toward the shore, and by turning our boards around and “watching to see” (Hab. 2:1). Timing is everything, at the precise moment, after a time of waiting and watching and looking to see where the wave is going and how it’s rolling in, we do get to “do” something.
For just a few seconds, at precisely the right moment, we have to paddle our hearts out. Lying down on the board, the same way we got out there but now headed back in, we paddle with all our might in order to have momentum to catch the wave’s force. In order to ride it. If we’re just at a standstill, it doesn’t pick us up and carry us to shore. We need to be moving with it, in the direction that it’s going, in order to catch it and be able to flow with it.
So if we want something for us to “do”, this is it. We do align our gifts and our strengths and our talents and will and everything we have in ourselves, we do choose to surrender it and line it up with God’s purposes and go all out – at least for a few moments. So it’s not really a striving of the flesh, as much as it is an aligning with the Spirit.
We choose to come into agreement with the power of that wave so that we can be moved upon and carried – effortlessly and gracefully – on the wave of God Emotion. And as long as we stay in line with where it’s going, it will carry us all the way from the far out peaceful ocean of the spirit, right up to the sandy beach, waves of compassion crashing onto the shore of the physical dimension in an explosion of spirit realm life and energy and power.
“Have this same attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”
We see then that to pray for someone’s healing just because we “should” since there’s a biblical command that says to isn’t actually the best motivation. Look at Jesus’ example. Lying all around the pool at Bethesda were the lame and blind and deaf; many, many people in need. We have a record of Jesus healing one of them; just one out of all those who were sick.
While we know He healed everyone who came to Him, He didn’t heal everyone. When He died on the cross and said it is finished, there were still sick people around. There were still hungry people on earth. There were still people who needed deliverance. Yet, He said His work was finished.
I can learn from this and have Jesus’ perspective, that is, that it’s not all for me to do either. It is better to live out of the heart of God, and when He moves upon me through His Spirit and I feel that “striving in my inward parts” then I know, “OK, now is the time.” Compassion is moving me, which means there is power present to be released (Lk. 5:17). This makes it exciting because then I have faith that provision and healing are flowing unhindered, carried on that wave of compassion, and I know the person will be met at their point of need.
We surely can't go wrong if we simply follow Jesus’ example, exclusively doing what He saw Father do and only moving when He was moved by compassion. Likewise, we shouldn’t do anything if it’s not out of Kingdom emotion. If it’s out of guilt, obligation or duty, it is not out of faith. And whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23).
What we’re going for
I don't need to "think more highly of myself than I ought to think...since there are many members of one body."
We’re not an expression of God’s fullness each one our own selves. I’m not God, but I’m a part of His Body. There are other brothers and sisters and hands and feet and each part of the body specializes in specific things. We work together in unity and connectedness.
If we are all waiting on God and tuned into His frequency and living out of His divine emotion, then all of the work of the ministry will be done. That is the vision. If everyone is sensitive to God and doesn't act until they are moved by compassion, but also just as importantly they do act every time they are moved by compassion, then everyone will be taken care of. All the hospitals will be emptied. All the hungry people will be fed. We will all be demonstrating extraordinary power because we will all be living out of extraordinary love.
Love that moves us. Love that’s above and beyond, and causes us to take action. A deep love flowing up out of the spirit realm and from the very heart of God. A divine emotion so powerful in nature that when it bursts into our physical atmosphere, the impact on the human conduit through which it flows appears as a “striving of the inward parts”, a current so strong we are caught up in it and swept along and moved to ministry by the sheer intensity of it.
A love that moves us…that is compassion.
Emotion of God
Perhaps this is even a key for getting our prayers answered more often. If we want healing released and supernatural power manifested every time we pray, then maybe we should make sure we only pray when we’re moved by compassion to do so. According to Scripture, that’s what Jesus does.
He doesn’t do anything on His own initiative (Jn. 8:28) and the Holy Spirit doesn’t do anything on His own initiative (Jn. 16:13) – so we don’t need to either. If we simply move with compassion the way Jesus does, then we’ll move in power the way He does too. 100% success rate! By living exclusively out of divine initiative, by ministering always and only out of the emotion of God.
Shoreline image courtesy of CharlaArts
"Surf" image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Wave" image courtesy of Federico Stevanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Sunset Surfer" image courtesy of Michael Elliott / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Surfing a Wave" image courtesy of M - Pics / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Hands Make Heart Shape" image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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