The NIV uses the word "compassion" twelve times in the New Testament, with eight references to Jesus and compassion. Here is
one of those passages
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Mt. 9:35-38).
It should be noted that this verse which speaks of Jesus' compassion is in the midst of a "missional" passage of Scripture. Jesus teach, preaches the good news of the kingdom, and is engaging in his healing ministry. As he is doing this, he feels compassion for the crowds, for they are "harassed and helpless." This prompts Jesus to tell his disciples to pray that God will "send out" workers. (Remember, missio=sent)
Any message that is not accompanied by compassion and healings acts of love and service will almost certainly fall on deaf ears today. This is why missionaries, church planters, and evangelists--and all Christians--should lead with compassion. Whether job loss, divorce, stress, anxiety and depression, sickness, loneliness, or fear, people all around us feel harassed and helpless. Showing a little love and kindness, with a hug, a note, a gift, a prayer, a listening ear can have a huge impact upon people--particularly those who are not used to such kind acts.
Max Lucado has even said that compassion is our best apologetic for today's times. I think that he may be right. Certainly, Jesus showed us that compassion is an essential part of being "missional."
What are some practical acts of compassion that we can practice individually? What about as a church?
Here is an interesting study
that suggests that meditation (think God's word) can lead to more compassion.