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Are You Cultivating Compassion in a Selfish World?

The needs in our world are great. It's time to challenge the limits of your compassion by steering clear of three common pitfalls.


Our culture is full of causes.

That’s not necessarily bad.

Someone identifies a need and wants to do something about it. They develop a plan and rally support. People become aware of needs they didn’t know existed and choose to be part of the solution.

Much good is accomplished this way.

But it’s easy to get tunnel vision and only be interested in whatever motivates our own particular passion.

But it’s not really the cause that matters. Compassion matters.


Compassion is greater than a cause.


That’s what I want to see – in myself and in others.

Compassion that goes beyond a list of causes.

Each of us is inclined to have heightened awareness of certain situations based on who we are, the experiences we’ve had and the people we’ve met. That knowledge and the passion that accompanies it is from God. We should steward those inclinations to His glory . . . without ignoring or minimizing other needs around us.

So I’d like to offer a few ways to challenge our compassion. :

First, don’t let your compassion be constrained by a cause.

Cultivate a desire to know the variety of needs in our world.

Develop an ability to see those needs.

Practice doing what you can at any moment.

None of us can do everything all the time or even anything every time. But let’s challenge the limits of our current compassion and stretch our hearts to offer what we have when we can.

Second, don’t let your compassion be out of compulsion.


Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

. . .

No one should coerce you into showing compassion. It is meant to be offered willingly without expectation or regret. Whatever it is you have to give . . . a helping hand, a smile, a meal or a monetary gift – share it because you want to bless the receiver regardless of what anyone else thinks.

And third, don’t let your compassion become a competition.

True compassion is a form of worship to God. Our tangible expressions of love for others reflect the love which Christ first showed to us. (1 John 4:19-21)

. . .

Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

1 John 3:18


The needs in Jesus’ world were many and varied – just like those in our world. Some people, like Jairus and others in Luke 8, sought Jesus out and begged for His help.

He gave it.

In cases like the Samaritan woman from John 4, Jesus perceived a need and offered to meet it.

Sometimes, others will solicit your compassion. Other times, you will recognize needs that aren’t spoken.

In either case, apply these “don’ts”, and enjoy the opportunity to help.


You may also like:

What Does the Bible Say About Compassion?

What does the Bible say about compassion?


Shared at: Grace & Truth,


  1. Abi, thanks for the reminder that compassion – true compassion – needs to be cultivated. I have chosen your post as my feature on Grace and Truth this week.

    • Thank you, Aimee. We are so blessed that Christ had compassion on us. May we be faithful to share His goodness as He gives us grace and courage to show compassion to others.

  2. “Practice doing what you can at any moment.” This is exactly the thing I have done in my job, and it is amazing how so many people don’t expect compassion. I think it is something that should be offered and expected, and it goes so far in presenting a faithful witness. Although I take part in my share of causes, I do believe doing what we can at any moment creates a legacy of compassion. Thanks for this encouragement and challenge!

    • So glad you visited, Crystal. Demonstrating compassion is definitely a great way to maintain a faithful witness of God’s compassion toward us.

  3. Abi, I especially appreciate your 2nd don’t. I like to say to my children, “God loves a cheerful giver and so do I!” What a difference the spirit in which a gift is given makes.

  4. Thanks for this post. I find that as life gets increasingly complicated, as we take on more responsibility and in a culture that does and has it all, compassion can get lost. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I agree, Terry. It is so easy to stay busy minding our own business so to speak that we fail to recognize the needs around us. May God give us eyes to see and hearts to help.

  5. Abi, what an important lesson to keep hold of as we approach the Christmas season. After all, wasn’t Jesus coming to live with and among us the definition of compassion?
    Thank you so much for sharing this at Coffee and Conversation…I’ll be featuring this tomorrow 🙂
    Have a great thanksgiving!!

    • Yes, Jesus certainly did meet the greatest need we have when put aside His own glory to enter earth as a man, lived a sinless life and willingly became the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins. No greater example of compassion. Appreciate the feature. Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. We love Samaritan’s purse … Operation Christmas Child …. their Christmas Catalog … relief efforts. Probably one of our favorite ministries. I love that your son saw a need and wanted to be the one to meet it. You’ve taught him compassion!

    • Our kids love filling boxes for Operation Christmas Child too. We’re working on finishing them up this weekend. I’m glad they enjoy picking out things that will bless other kids.

  7. What a thoughtful word, Abi!

    I love the story of the boys pulling the envelope out of the trash can. Kids just “get it” don’t they!!

    Thanks for the reminder to live filled with compassion for real people and real needs.

    Found your post today on Grace and Truth.

    I liked it so much that I tweeted it and shared it here: https://www.pinterest.com/melredd/blog-link-parties-and-blog-link-ups/

    Hope you have a blessed weekend~

  8. Thank you Abi for your wise and timely words. I especially love your first challenge “don’t let your compassion be constrained by a cause”. So often we invest so much time and thought into a particular passion and in the meantime miss all that is right in front of us – things we could actually do to make a difference in someone else’s life. We are foster parents, so often consumed by the little people in our lives but God wants us to see others too. He wants us to teach His heart of compassion to the little ones He has given to us to care for, which requires us to have His heart of compassion and have our hearts and eyes open to see what is in front of us.

    • Good morning, Nel. Thanks for taking time to leave an encouraging comment. May God bless your efforts as you love on the little (or big) ones in your care. Even your example of serving them can have a powerful influence toward compassion in their lives. Hope you find some simple, fun ways you can practice loving others together as well. Enjoy your weekend.

  9. Thank you so much for these important reminders! I so often feel like I can’t make a difference, and I let that paralyze me from doing the little bit that I could be doing.

    • Yes. I think it’s kind of like the loaves and the fishes – when we are faithful to give the little we have, God multiplies it in ways we can’t fathom.


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