Active Compassion

Posted by Karah


Start your time alone with God by considering this quote:

People may excite in themselves a glow of compassion, not by toasting their feet at the fire, and saying: ‘Lord, teach me compassion,’ but by going and seeking an object that requires compassion.”

—Henry Ward Beecher

Read Mark 6:30-43 in its entirety in your Bible.

“So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things.”

—Mark 6:34

The Greek word used for compassion here, splanchnizomai, is only used of Jesus in the New Testament (Matt. 18:27; Luke 20:33;15:20). It suggests more than pity and involves action. How did Jesus show compassion to the people? How has He shown it to you?

Re-read verses 34-35,42. Jesus saw the peoples’ spiritual need and met it, then recognized their physical need—hunger—and met it. What does that tell you about how you should reach out to others?

Consider Jesus’ response when He saw the people and their needs and contrast it with the disciples’ response. Which better describes how you view others? Why?


It is impossible for us to minister effectively in the world if we ignore physical or spiritual needs. We must work to meet both. Think about the needs in your church, community, or world. Which ones do you feel led to meet? Jot down two ways you’ll take action to meet those needs this week.

Is there someone in your life to whom it is hard to show compassion? Pray for that person this week, asking God to help you see them through Jesus’ eyes.

Behind the Story

Of the miracles of Jesus, the Feeding of the 5,000 is the only one recorded in all four gospels. The disciples approached the peoples’ hunger with human wisdom and concluded they could do nothing to help. The lack of resources allowed Jesus the opportunity to display His power and show the disciples that God is not limited by what we can see and supply.

The Point

We must show compassion to those around us, reaching out to meet physical and spiritual needs.

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