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From the Heart

Colossians 3:12–17

οἰκτιρμοῦ (oiktirmou) :: mercy and concern with sensitivity and compassion

χρηστότητα (chrēstotēta) :: giving to or providing for a person as an act of kindness

ταπεινοφροσύνην (tapeinophrosynē) :: humble attitude and without arrogance

πραΰτητα (prautēta) :: gentleness of attitude and behavior / not harsh with others

μακροθυμίαν (makrothymian) :: emotional calm despite provocation or misfortune, and without complaint or irritation.

So, why the Greek lesson? English misses so much. The one that triggered this particular Greek lesson is οἰκτιρμοῦ (oiktirmou). In the most used translations, this is only translated as compassion. A few translations (e.g., HCSB, ESV, and NASB) add heart in some form. This is an important qualifier.

Compassion can be an act of obedience (with or without being a loving response). For many people, that is exactly what it is. Almsgiving (giving money and/or aid to the poor) is common in a number of religions. It is, for example, 1 of the 5 pillars of Islam (called Zakat). In the church, it is titled Compassionate Ministries (Church of the Nazarene organization). It is Blue Bucket Sundays at Generations Community Church. People give out of obligation, too. It’s not that obedience or obligation is bad, but what about the heart.

Think of χρηστότητα (chrēstotēta). Giving to give is fine, sort of. If we were to give a poor family the best birthday party for the youngest child or feed the family for the month (and, based on the bills of some birthday parties, that isn’t a stretch), which would we choose? Both are giving as kindness, but which has the potential for the greatest kindness.

Why is this important? It’s about our lives with one another. Our lives with one another are to exemplify love…and compassion of the heart.

1)Taking the rest of the Greek, how do they each apply to your Christian walk, whether for yourself or for others?

2) In Churches, compassion is often the mission of a ministry. That is not how we are called to live. How can you deepen the compassion in your Christian walk? How can you help others to deepen theirs?

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