As a Senior in the Master’s College Home Economics Department, you are required to give a 45 minute-or-so seminar. The topic I chose to speak on was compassion. I had determined that I wanted to call my seminar, “The Bowels of Compassion.” I thought that it would provoke interest in my topic! I thought that people would want to know what in the world I was talking about! My boyfriend (now my husband) and my mom said no way! They told me that it was gross and unladylike! They finally convinced me not to call it that, so I called it “A Passionate Compassion” instead.
Why in the world would I want to call my seminar “The Bowels of Compassion” though?! I wanted to call it that because the word for “compassion” in the Greek is “Splanchnon.” Splanchnon is a very intense word. It refers to the innermost parts of your body – literally, the bowels of the body. Splanchnon is referring then to the “bowels” of mercy. The Hebrews thought that the innermost parts of the body were what feel the most deeply. So the word for compassion in the New Testament is speaking of a deep-seated, intense compassion.
Examples of this in Scripture
Jesus is the ultimate picture of this tender compassion. He is splanchnon incarnate. There are examples of this throughout the New Testament.
- Luke 7 – when the widow’s son had just died – His heart went out to her
- Matthew 14:13 – when Jesus sees the crowd, Scripture says “He had compassion (splanchnon) on them and healed their sick”
- Mark 8 – Before the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus says “I have compassion on the crowd because they are hungry.”
- Matthew 20 – Two blind men cry out to Jesus for mercy and He is “moved with compassion” and heals them.
- Mark 1 – A leper asks to be healed and Jesus is “moved with compassion” and He heals the leper.
There are many other examples also:
- Luke 10 – Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan who saw the hurt man and he feels compassion.
- Paul yearns for others with the splanchnon of Christ
- Philippians 1:8
- Colossians 3:12 instructs believers to “put on a heart of splanchnon.”
How Compassion is Fleshed Out
Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, “The splanchnon of God always results in some action; it always moves you to do something about the person who is afflicted or hurting. Splanchon never ends with a feeling, it does something.” Jesus felt compassion and healed the blind man. He saw the hungry crowd, felt compassion and did something about it.
God has it, Jesus demonstrated it, now that you have received the tender mercy of God you are called to demonstrate it to others.
How You can Demonstrate “Splanchnon” – Application
There are thousands of ways you can demonstrate compassion. Here are just a few:
- Write a note to someone who is hurting. Let them know you are praying for them.
- Send a card or a package to a missionary family.
- Pack boxes for Children’s Hunger Fund, support a child through World Vision, or volunteer at a local Mercy Ministry.
- Bring cookies to your neighbors. This might open an opportunity for the Gospel. Sharing the Gospel is the ultimate act of compassion on needy sinners.
- Give a listening ear to those who are struggling. Share with them how you have been struggling and what the Lord has taught you.
What are some ways that you have shown the Lord’s compassion to others?