about-bg about-bg


The Gift of God’s Compassion

• Greg Boyd

Christmas is the ultimate expression of God’s compassion, a core attribute and expression of God’s being. This is an expression associated with the Hebrew word for womb, which means that compassion is about entering into the experiences of another. God enters into our life through Jesus and shows us what God is like.

Show Extended Summary Hide Extended Summary

The word “compassion” in Hebrew is associated with a mother’s love. In traditional cultures like ancient Israel, the father was the disciplinarian and the mother was the compassionate one. The root of the Hebrew word is associated with the word “womb”. It may have the connotation of, “because you came from me, you’re always a part of me.” It is about experiencing the emotional or physical pain of another.

This is captured in Isaiah 49. Because Israel persistently broke covenant with their divine protector, Yahweh, with a grieving heart, felt he had to withdraw his protection. As a result, Israel had been taken captive to Babylon. Decades had passed and Israel felt like Yahweh had forsaken them forever. Then the Lord spoke through Isaiah:

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!” —Isaiah 49:14-15

Yahweh gets on the inside of their suffering and yearns for their deliverance, which is why God’s judgments are never the last word in scripture. God’s judgments, which are always brought reluctantly, always serve a redemptive purpose. God’s last word is compassion.

The greatest expression of God’s motherly compassion was one he expressed to the whole world. In Jesus, God promised that Abraham’s seed would bless the world. Jesus is the embodiment of Israel, and now, all who believe are incorporated into Christ and thus made part of Israel. Compassion led the Son of God to set aside all his divine prerogatives to empty himself and become a little baby. It was God’s motherly compassion that looked past judgment to see her beloved that led God to make our humanity his humanity. It was God’s perfect compassion that led God to go even further, and to enter into complete solidarity with our sin and our judgment on the cross.

The whole being of God yearns for our well-being. God is unlimited love. This was manifest 2,000 ago with the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. This expresses the way God truly is, at all times, in all places, to all people. When we receive the gift of God’s compassion, it will change us. When we understand that God in her love is on the inside of your joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains, hopes and despairs, proud moments and shame, holiness and sin, we are changed.

Hide Extended Summary

Topics: Christmas, Forgiveness, Love

Sermon Series: God IS the Gift

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
The MuseCast: December 26
The Gift of God's Compassion Poem
BibleProject: How God Begins to Describe Himself in the Bible
Kids Christmas Story PDF

Focus Scripture:

  • Exodus 34: 5-7

    Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Subscribe to Podcast

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





"I was inspired during my recent visit to your church, and wanted to thank you for the notable work you are accomplishing in the city. Thank you for being Holy Spirit first responders to the homeless and downtrodden. May God continue to show himself strong as you represent Christ daily."

– Kathy