So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
If you look for the word compassion in the Bible, it is almost exclusively used in reference to God. Even the story of the prodigal son is a picture of God the Father waiting for His wayward children to come to Him.
The gift of compassion is also the gift of mercy. The Newsboys sung about this a number of years ago in a way that describes it best. This is a slight paraphrase: “When we get what we don’t deserve, that’s a real good thing. When we don’t get what we deserve, that’s a real good thing.”
Compassion is recognizing what someone deserves and showing them love anyway. The prodigal son knew he didn’t deserve his father’s love anymore, having spent his inheritance but he was welcomed back with open arms anyway.
People with the gift of compassion or mercy may find themselves working in prison ministries or providing care for those who are suffering or may even be on their deathbed. It takes a special person to minister to these people and not turn away from their needs. These people have the gift of compassion.