“Book of Mormon Principles: The Compassion of Christ,” Ensign, Oct. 2004, 37–39
I am always moved when I read the description of Christ ministering to His people as they gathered at the temple in the land Bountiful. He called the sick and afflicted to Him and healed them. He gathered the children round Him. Then He asked all to pray with Him. As He prayed, He “groaned within himself … because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel” (3 Ne. 17:14; see also 3 Ne. 17:5–13, 15).
I am equally touched by Nephi’s words to his people. Centuries before Christ’s coming, he understood the compassion of the Messiah:
“He [Christ] doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
“Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price” (2 Ne. 26:24–25).
I am continually amazed and humbled by the Lord’s willingness to give us a second chance. What He asks of us is so simple and clear: repent and obey the commandments.
Think of what Nephi’s brothers did to him and to their father, Lehi. Shortly after leaving Jerusalem, they began to murmur about their father and younger brother. But the Lord needed these less-than-valiant men to assist in His work, and, more important, He wanted them to be faithful to Him and to obey His commandments. So He persisted with them. He even sent an angel to admonish them to repent and obey (see 1 Ne. 2; 1 Ne. 3:28–29).
We can learn from Christ’s example. His lesson to those of us who are parents seems clear: we need to demonstrate the same level of compassion and love to our own children, even when they seem unrepentant and stubborn. We need to believe that a change of heart will occur and they will return.
Partly because of his faith and compassion, Alma had the blessing of seeing a child return. His son and the sons of Mosiah were struck dumb by an angel of the Lord. The angel told them that because of the prayers of Alma and of the people, “have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith” (Mosiah 27:14). Alma did not give up on his son and neither did the Lord.
Compassion is not only needed by parents; it is critical as we serve one another in our callings. We are assigned to be home teachers or visiting teachers so that all “might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful” (Moro. 6:4). As we attend to those we have been asked to shepherd, we are acting for Christ. Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “You are called to represent the Savior. Your voice to testify becomes the same as His voice, your hands to lift the same as His hands. … That will be true even in the most ordinary tasks you are assigned.”1 If we keep in our minds the image of Christ blessing and healing His people, this will teach us how we must serve.
All of the Father’s children are important to Him. We are given the opportunity to bless lives within our own families and within our ward and stake families as we minister to those we have been called to serve. We exhibit the same quality of compassion as Christ when we strive with diligence to fulfill His call to us to “feed my sheep” (John 21:17).
When we choose to serve Christ and His children, we demonstrate by our actions and example the compassion Christ shows for us. We understand Mormon’s admonition:
“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. …
“… Pray … with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, … that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (Moro. 7:47–48).
Show family members the picture on page 37 and ask them to share what comes to mind as they think of the Savior’s compassion. Discuss the meaning of compassion using the examples in this article. Invite family members to exercise Christlike compassion during the coming week.
Invite family members to share stories of when they have noticed expressions of compassion at home. Ask them to read and share their thoughts about stories from this article that teach how to show compassion. Bear testimony of the Savior’s compassion for us.