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God the Father of Compassion

When five-year-old Andrew first saw a picture of the grandfather he had never met, he smiled and said, “That’s Daddy!” The family resemblance between father and son was so strong even a young child could see it.

In the same way, we should expect to see some family resemblance between God the Father and those who claim to be His children. That’s why Colossians 3:12 urges: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” The metaphor of clothing suggests that this resemblance is not automatic—it is intentional.

In today’s passage we learn how God uses our circumstances to help us “put on” traits like compassion. The Father of compassion comforts us in our troubles so that we will be able to show the same comfort to others. The experience of God’s compassion teaches us how to be compassionate. The same can be said of God’s kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. When we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, we might be tempted to think that God is not treating us the way a loving father should. In reality He is inviting us to learn how to be like Him.

Putting on these characteristics of our Father requires more than mere imitation, however. We must first experience God if we are to become more like Him. As we walk with Him, we learn more about how He cares for us. Once we have experienced God, we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to act in like manner.

God the Father is more than a role model. He is the architect of all those traits He longs to see in us, and the Holy Spirit works in our lives to produce a family resemblance to our heavenly Father that anyone can easily see.

Apply the Word

Use your imagination to browse through mental snapshots from your day. Where do you see a reflection of the image of your heavenly Father? Can you identify moments of compassion and kindness? Thank God for His grace, and ask Him to continue His transforming work in your life.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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