Categorized Compassion

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When a person lives a worldly life, that person is subject to worldly compassion. Worldly compassion is not an act of love but a tool to be used. The well-known passage of Scripture called “the parable of the lost son” (Luke 15:11-32) teaches us many lessons, one of which is the damage from categorized compassion.

But no one gave him anything.

Luke 15:16

The son took his father’s inheritance while he was still alive and spent all of his money partying. Ending up destitute and at the very bottom of society, he had no money and, due to prejudice, he was in a category unworthy of compassion – he was a Jew outside of Israel or Judea (see v.13).


Worldly compassion provides benevolence to people in socially approved categories, and it is withheld from people who find themselves in classes that society has deemed not deserving compassion. Our world is the same as that of the prodigal son. This is not true for the body of Christ.

To effectively give Christian compassion, we must do so with intentionality. Intentionality means our thoughts, desires, and hopes compel us to seek out opportunities to express Jesus’ love to any person in need.

Great Acts of Compassion

A historian of the early church, Eusebius, recorded in “The Church History” that during the plague,

All day long some of them [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them. Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.

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As a means of caring for those who were ill, St. Basil of Caesarea founded the first hospital (c. 369). Christian hospitals grew apace, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s, there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick.

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Compassion Through Education

Of course, God has called countless Christians to demonstrate compassion through education. In America, Harvard and Yale were founded by Puritans, Princeton was founded by Presbyterians, and Brown University was founded by Baptists. Oxford University, Cambridge University (founded in 1209 AD), University of Edinburgh, and Saint Andrews were all founded by and for Christianity in the UK. Of course, we can’t forget the hundreds of universities founded worldwide by the Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches, such as the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University of Lyon, the University of Vienna (founded in 1365), and Saint Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary.

The Most Prolific Compassion

Still, the most extraordinary undocumented Christian compassion comes from you and all faithful Christians. Our heart is not splintered; we do not practice socially categorized compassion. Because “For God so loved the world,” we must too.

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