Compassion toward others is a vital part of our walk. When those whom we have trusted and looked to as examples of spiritual leadership fail to maintain their loving service to the body of Christ and become persecutors of the brethren the human tendency is to withdraw and become fearful of loving because of the possibility of being hurt. Satan, who is the god of this world, defines the course of this world which is one where hate, anger, bitterness, and selfishness wear down the loving Christian heart. We must continually renew our mind to the love and mercy of God if we are to maintain a compassionate heart.
We are to put on bowels of mercies. Bowels refers to the inner organs. It is a figure of speech. Today we might say "have a big heart." We are to put on kindness. We are to forbear one another or put up with each other. We are to forgive the way Jesus Christ forgave. Above all we are to put on the love of God. God so loved the world (which did nothing but hate and reject Him) that He gave His only begotten son. Jesus Christ so loved and forgave that he gave his life and died for the very people that crucified him. As we live in this kind of forgiveness and love the peace of God rules in our hearts. Then we can recognize the one body of Christ. And then we can be thankful.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
"This ancient Oriental saying means to shake off the animosity and bitter feelings which arose between another and you as you leave, so that you may go on your way with your heart full of peace and joy, as a Godly person should. You must never take with you the dust of hatred and resentment; shake it off and leave it behind so you may continue with a pure heart." quoted from Light Through an Eastern Window by Bishop K.C. Pillai.
And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
Paul and Barnabas could have carried the hurt and resentment of being expelled from the city with them. All they had done was to bring the Word of life to the city and people had listened. But Paul and Barnabas left the resentment behind and moved ahead to the next city with God's wonderful love and grace in their hearts. We too can shake off the hurt and move forward.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Heaping coals of fire on his head is not a form of punishment or revenge. In the Bible land villages coals from a common fire were taken to each home in the morning by a boy of the village. The boy would carry the coals on a piece of pottery on his head. Mornings were cold and the coals on the head warmed the boy. We must not carry hurt and resentment with us. We also must not seek revenge. When we lovingly give and meet the needs of our enemy we may warm his heart and overcome evil with good. We must continually renew our minds to God's compassionate Word and act accordingly.
I Peter 3:8-11
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
Only by leaving the hurt, animosity, resentment, and bitterness behind and having compassion for one another will we be able to let the peace of God rule in our hearts. God wants us to love one another and love is action. We know that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. Now God expects us to lay down our lives for the brethren. If we see someone with a need, God expects us to act with "bowels of compassion" toward him. We are not just to talk about loving - we are to act lovingly.
I John 3:16-18
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.