Wearing Christ’s Compassion - Clothed In Christ

By Jim Olsen

Key Verse
Col 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of (splanchnon) compassion (oiktirmos), kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

The kingdom of God overflows with compassion. Perhaps that’s the reason you were saved; you saw a love the world could not offer. God’s compassion reached into your soul and you were changed. In fact, all the clothing of God’s kingdom become extremely attractive to anyone who has seen the treachery and anger of men who have no restraint. God’s kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy. His compassionate eyes look upon his children, giving us his own compassion that we can and should share with others.


There are two Greek words we’ll be examining tonight, both translated compassion: oiktirmos, meaning ‘compassion, pity, mercy’ is most similar to English. Splanchnon is another word for compassion that involves feeling, passion. The word means ‘intestine;’ it is the gut-level type of compassion involving feel passionate. Westerners often refer to it as heart-felt compassion, seeing a need and instantly reacting to it.


In this series, I’m going through Col 3:12, word-by-word. Previously, I’ve discussed our selection, election and how we are considered both holy and beloved by God, teaching a basic principle of the Kingdom of adoption as sons. This means that once we hear the Lord speak his love over us personally, telling us personally that we are totally forgiven and holy, it will spark a huge, an enormous motivation to drop some of the sinful habits in our lives. We will start living as the saints we are. Our new, holy clothing makes us compassionate and kind. As you read this key verse, say to yourself, this is all Christ’s work; I need to learn how to relax and let him work through me.


Col 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of (splanchnon) compassion (oiktirmos), kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”


The Bible describes compassion as more than just thoughts; it’s also a feeling, with its own Greek word. Splanchnon means gut-level compassion that is instinctual; you feel it. It’s often used side-by-side with the more intellectual word, oiktirmos. Some westerners overlook the emotional side of compassion. I was surprised at how many translations ignore Paul’s use of ‘heart’ in this verse. Don’t make the same mistake. God wants you to feel his loving touch.


It’s important we aren’t afraid to feel deep heart-felt compassion for others. Consider Zechariah’s prophesy over John the Baptist concerning the coming of the Kingdom of God. Referring to Christ, he talked about a coming time where people would know salvation; they would have their sins forgiven. He explained this salvation and forgiveness was because of the tender mercy, heart-felt, splanchnon of our God. This deep, gut-level compassion makes our hearts brilliant and filled with life, rather than dark and dead. God’s compassion is a major reason why he saves us, forgives us and does not condemn us.


Luke 1:77 to give to His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,  78 because of the tender mercy (splanchnon) of our God, by which the Dawn will visit us from on high,  79 to shine on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”


Compassion continues regardless of the grief you are going through. I dare say, God will challenge you to be compassionate at the very same time you may want to close up, be private and grieve. Taking a clue from Jesus, God will often open the door and heal a grieving heart by bringing opportunities for compassion. God did it to Jesus. When Jesus heard that his beloved cousin John was beheaded, I can imagine the grief he felt. They probably grew up together, John baptized Jesus; they were close. Matthew’s gospel tells us he went away by boat to a private place. But, then God intervened. The crowds found out where Jesus was and, even in the middle of deep grieving, God brought him out of his shell. And the story didn’t end with healing; he showed God’s compassion to everyone by feeding them, multiplying the loaves and fishes.


Matt 14:13 “When Jesus heard about John, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. But the crowds found out and followed Him on foot from the towns.  14 When He stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.  15 When evening came, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is already late. Dismiss the crowds, so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 “They do not need to go away,” Jesus replied. “You give them something to eat.””


God wants everyone to experience his compassion. In the book of James, he declares that, in order to understand compassion, we should understand that, when we pass through troubles and trials, in the end of it we’ll see how merciful and compassionate God is. He pointed to the prophets and especially Job. Job went through a huge trial. He lost his possessions, his family and finally his health; all part of an attack of Satan, but under God’s control. You see, the temporary loss Job went through has given umpteen millions hope; the hope is that, in the end, God overflows with compassion. He makes our lives better than before. “Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4:16)”


Jam 5:10 “Brothers, as an example of patience in affliction, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  11 See how blessed we consider those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is full of compassion (*Extremely*) (polysplanchnos) and mercy (oiktirmon).”


Compassion always leads to comfort. Ask God to wrap you in his arms. As you go through life, every day can bring trials, moments you don’t like. If you look at it the wrong way, more can go wrong in your life than right. But, that’s not the truth. The truth is: God has compassion for every trial, heartache, and loss you have ever experienced. He wants to draw you near to himself and share that compassion so that you are able to comfort others with the same comfort he has given you.


2 Cor 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion (oiktirmos) and the God of all comfort,  4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”


There is no better way to say it than Paul’s exhortation in Philippians; take what God has given you, his encouragement, comfort, love and fellowship and give it away to others.


Phil 2:1 Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection splanchnon and compassion,  2 then make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose.”