In the New Testament book of Acts, there are many examples of Jesus’ disciples helping each other and showing compassion to those in need. One of them is Dorcas, a lady who lived in a city called Joppa. Read Acts 9:36-42 about the compassion she showed others and the compassion she received.

The account begins by describing this lady as a disciple who showed many kindnesses and charity to others. She was a seamstress who made clothing for people, especially widows. She did this without charging anything to those she helped clothe. But a day came when Dorcas became ill. She became so sick, she died. According to the custom of the day, her corpse was washed. Before entombing her, the widows and other believers who had been helped by Dorcas sent for one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter. He had helped many people recover from illnesses through healings done in Jesus’ name.

Peter came and had them leave the room where Dorcas’ body lay. He knelt down to pray. Then he addressed her dead body in her Aramaic Hebrew name, saying, “Tabitha, arise.” The amazing words of Scripture say that “. . . she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.”

This kind lady who had shown compassion to so many received compassion in the restoration of her life. The final result was that many people in Dorcas’ community heard about this and believed in the Lord Jesus.


It is impossible to be compassionate if we are too busy with our own concerns. Dorcas was not too busy to help the widows and those in need of clothing. She must have spent much of her time in fellowship with the people in her community so that she knew about the needs of many of them. The following “I will” statements should enable us show compassion to our neighbors:

  1. I will stop to help.
  2. I will listen when others want to talk.
  3. I will give of my resources to help those in need.
  4. I will look for lasting solutions.
  5. I will comfort others without regard to race, gender, faith, age, or nationality.

We do not know how many she helped, but the account in Acts 9 gives us the impression that Dorcas helped a lot of people. Start small and pray about showing compassion to just one individual this week. You may not know of anyone who needs your encouragement. If not, spend time with a neighbor. Go to a church prayer meeting and listen to the prayer requests. In other words, follow the “I will” statement to listen when others talk; and you will find someone who needs your compassion.

Although the last “I will” statement says to comfort others without regard to gender, be careful about improprieties with the opposite sex. For example, it would be unwise for a man to show compassion to a woman having marital problems by going to see her alone. This would undermine the authority of her husband and raise concerns about their being alone. Better ways to show compassion in this and similar situations are for the man to send his wife or another lady to visit her. The best approach in these situations is for the man to meet with both the woman and her husband, if the husband is willing. In this way, you show compassion to both the woman and her husband.


Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Contributed by Ron Wallie
Husband and Father of Nine, Southington, OH


2 Samuel 4:4
And Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son that was lame in his feet…And his name was Mephibosheth.

King David had ascended to the throne of Israel after the death of Saul, and Jonathan his son. David and Jonathan had been very close but had parted ways, as Saul became more intense in his efforts to kill David. As a new King in a land that was still involved in warfare, David had his hands full with the affairs of state.

2 Samuel 9:6-7
Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come to David, he fell on his face and did reverence…And David said unto him, “Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.”

Because of the relationship that David had with Jonathan, he took the time to inquire if there were any of Jonathan’s household that were still alive. He heard that Mephibosheth was still alive, and David sent for him. David took the first step towards Mephibosheth, who was living in poverty and fearing for his life, as a living descendant of Saul. Mephibosheth had been crippled at a young age.

David showed him compassion and said that he would take care of him because of his father, Jonathan. He then restored to him the lands that had belonged to his grandfather Saul and promised to watch over his welfare for the rest of his life.

Romans 9:15-16
For he saith to Moses “ I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

We, as Christians, are called “kings and priests unto God”. We are “more than conquerors through Christ”. The Lord has given unto us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” and has promised to provide for us.

As David had compassion on Mephibosheth, isn’t it about time that we begin to have compassion on those that have been crippled by sin and living without God in this world? Shouldn’t we take the first step, as David did, and looking for those whom God is calling into his kingdom, in order to have compassion on them, so that they can be restored into relationship with God? And as David watched over Mephibosheth, shouldn’t we be watching over the spiritual growth and welfare of those that we lead into that relationship?

The enemy has taken them captive just as much as Mephibosheth’s handicap had captured his ability to live a normal life. But because of David’s love of Jonathan, David took the time to restore Mephibosheth. Is your love for Jesus enough to motivate you to seek out those who are lost, and captured by the enemy, and restore them to the life that God want’s for them?

This is the compassion that Jesus had for the lost sheep that had gone astray. May we, like Jesus, show that same compassion to those that God brings our way.

Here are five “I will” principles to practice in order to incorporate the character trait of compassion into your life (write these on a poster, board, or overhead transparency).

  1. I will stop to help.
  2. I will listen when others want to talk.
  3. I will give of my resources to help those in need.
  4. I will look for lasting solutions.
  5. I will comfort others without regard to race, gender, faith, age or nationality.

Closing #1: Let’s dialog about it with one another.

  • Shift the group into small discussion groups of 3-4.
  • Encourage groups to list the hindrances in their own lives to practicing compassion in their families and with acquaintances.
  • Ask groups to share their feelings with the whole group.

Closing #2: Let’s close in silent prayer to God:

  • To forgive you for things in your life that cause you to focus on yourself instead of the needs that are around you.
  • To show you how to practice compassion in your life.
  • To make you aware of opportunities to grow in this character trait.


Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Contributed by Craig E. Beckley
Bible Teacher, Moores Hill, Indiana

September 19, 2003

This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.