Compassion is defined as "a suffering with another; painful sympathy; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration. Compassion is a mixed passion, compounded of love and sorrow; at least some portion of love generally attends the pain or regret, or is excited by it. Extreme distress of an enemy even changes enmity into at least temporary affection."

“Mankind's law of compassion is
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

While the world views compassion as "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others," we who walk the Via Christa identify it as being aligned much more closely with empathy and kindness.

Compassion is an attribute of the Godhead, Wisdom and Love combined, rooted in the principle of the Logos. Compassion is an absolute principle, an abstract principle, a law of being and of doing, a Via Christa Degree and a virtue. Our relative expression of compassion is in the perfect balance between Love and Wisdom in action. Mankind's great law of compassion is "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." – Matthew 5:7.

Edna Lister on Compassion

Compassion is how you share Christ's Passion. – Edna Lister, April 19, 1935.

To express full compassion to the world spiritualizes your personality until everyone can see the Christ Light in you. – Edna Lister, February 3, 1939.

Understanding, compassion and tenderness create a radiant personality, which draws all good to you. – Edna Lister, February 3, 1939.

To be compassionate is the Master's prayer. – Edna Lister, February 7, 1939.

Watch yourself, lest you are the one found wanting in compassion. – Edna Lister, October, 18, 1939.

Compassion is your greatly treasured possession, for which you sell all that you have to buy it with great sacrifice of the self. All you truly possess is self, and in selling that, you replace it with compassionate immortality of soul. – Edna Lister, August 9, 1940.

Be kind and charitable, for God's Love is the kindness of compassion, which always covers others' transgressions. – Edna Lister, January 28, 1941.

Follow the Master's ensample of compassion, peace, joy and service to God. – Edna Lister, July 31, 1941.

Be compassionate, but do not take the outer situation personally; just lift it. – Edna Lister, June 30, 1944.

Only the love of compassion to lift all darkness that others commit can ever cleanse it from earth. – Edna Lister, February 26, 1949.

The more you see that needs lifting in another, the more compassionate you must become. – Edna Lister, July 13, 1949.

Have just as much compassion for the big shot as for the lowly one who has trouble. – Edna Lister, June 2, 1952.

Compassion holds the other fellow in his own place under God, or up to his highest point of honor. – Edna Lister, July 13, 1953.

Christed consciousness is selfless love of God expressing as compassion for all humanity. – Edna Lister, March 29, 1954.

Compassion toward one who is ill or in trouble is so easy. Compassion only for those in trouble is self that can make you feel superior, whether you recognize it or not. If you are ascending twenty-four-hours a day, you pour love and compassion on all. – Edna Lister, March 29, 1954.

Surrender to be possessed by the fullness of all the Power endows one with comprehension. From comprehension of this, compassion moves into the world. – Edna Lister, July 12, 1954.

Only when you find, hold, and express the love of God, can you properly evaluate your earthly loves, or express enough compassion to really love, not in spite of, but just because "I love you." – Edna Lister, February 11, 1957.

View spiritual pygmies and retrogressed souls in compassion and love. If it agitates them into fury, love is bringing them to life, and you can pour in more beneficent beams. – Edna Lister, February 6, 1958.

You really must suffer before you can be compassionate. – Edna Lister, Revelation, June 10, 1958.

Mankind's law of compassion is "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." – Matthew 5:7. – Edna Lister, September 8, 1958.

Once you give enough compassion, you free yourself of being hurt because you are so busy being compassionate. – Edna Lister, September 8, 1958.

Compassion is a composite of peace, patience, and love. Let it use you. – Edna Lister, December 12, 1958.

You do not use compassion, but it uses you. – Edna Lister, December 18, 1958.

God's love toward man is compassion. – Edna Lister, March 26, 1959.

The law of love dictates that you look compassionately at everyone about you. – Edna Lister, May 4, 1959.

Each is given a supply of compassionate wisdom that creates a complete gentle firmness of loving. Be firm about law, but compassionate with all. – Edna Lister, June 29, 1959.

You can boil all truth into one statement: Truth is full comprehension of God and loving compassion toward men. – Edna Lister, November 23, 1959.

Compassion is being square in your love of others. You must have compassion for others as individuals, groups and nations to know their degree and kind, and how to best relate to them. Compassion is not emotional sentimentality or sympathy that weakens another's strength, but a quiet, nurturing love that encourages growth. Compassion lives in the light of love. Emotional sentimentality and sympathy live in the darkness of self. – Edna Lister, Nine Great Truths in 33 Degrees, December 15, 1959.

Anything that makes you less than loving compassion, is your master. – Edna Lister, June 27, 1960.

Compassion is the fragrance of God's love moving forth to entice, to comfort and to make another feel wanted and important. Compassion is the arms of the Father reaching to His children as He says, "I know your hurt, but look up. See my Light and the glories I have waiting for you here. Just one step further, child. I'll lift you to take another while my love is absorbing the hurt and the darkness. Soon you shall feel my deep love moving through you. Joy will seep in and take over your heart. Come up, child, just a step further, and another one. Each step makes your body lighter until you shall feel my arms upholding you." – Edna Lister, December 5, 1960.

Compassion is how you express the love of God. When what you send forth returns as less than compassion, you are not exercising pure compassion. When you exercise compassion, you are not thinking of self. – Edna Lister, January 25, 1961.

Your compassion for others determines your ascension. – Edna Lister, Song of the Lamb, December 17, 1961.

You must have compassion for yourself to have the gospel of peace. – Edna Lister, What Is Compassion? May 6, 1962.

When you lack compassion for the world, the judgmental residue clogs the lymph glands. – Edna Lister, September 5, 1963.

Pure compassion enables you to see through the walls that self builds. – Edna Lister, April 8, 1965.

Be compassionate but not sympathetic. Compassion says, "I wish I could lift you out of this," but sympathy pours more emotion on the other's load. – Edna Lister, July 31, 1965.

Compassion is empathy, not sympathy but complete understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. – Edna Lister, July 31, 1965.

Brace your compassion with the firm love of God, and the knowledge that each is ascending as he learns his lessons and pays his debts. – Edna Lister, January 19, 1966.

Compassion is the highest vibration of the elastic relative law of tolerance, under the principle of equilibrium. – Edna Lister, November 13, 1967.

Compassion is the fragrance of God's love moving forth to entice, to comfort and to make another feel wanted and important. – Edna Lister, December 5, 1967.

When compassion descends into sympathy, you work out the other's soul debts with him and for him. Is this really what you want? – Edna Lister, April 28, 1968.

When yearning, brooding compassion must flow over the poison of self-exaltation, it taints it. – Edna Lister, November 14, 1968.

Moral softness is not good. Don't pamper the self in others. Be compassionate, but not like Jell-O. – Edna Lister, May 27, 1971.

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New Testament on Compassion

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. – Matthew 5:7.

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. – Matthew 5:42.

All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12.

Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. – Matthew 10:42.

There is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. – Mark 12:32‑33.

As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. – Luke 6:31.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. – Luke 6:36.

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. – Luke 23:34.

I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. – John 13:15-17.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. – John 13:34‑35.

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:12-13.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:12-16.

Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God. – Hebrews 5:1‑4.

We count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. – James 5:11.

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. – 1 Peter 3:8‑9.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. – Romans 13:8-10.

He who loveth God love his brother also. – 1 John 4:21.

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. – James 2:8‑10.

Be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. – 1 Corinthians 14:20.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 –1971
The original Pioneering Mystic,
American Idealist, minister, teacher, and author

Edna Lister

Etymology of compassion: Latin com- with + pati, to suffer.

Compassion is a Via Christa Degree.

Compassion is an absolute principle.

Compassion is an abstract principle.

Compassion is a law of being.

Compassion is a law of doing.

Compassion is a soul virtue.


Compassion is the true moral incentive. – Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality


The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. ©2018.

The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Related Topics

See Empathy

See Sympathy

See What Is Compassion? (a): Edna Lister sermon outline; May 6, 1962.

See What Is Compassion? (b): Edna Lister sermon outline; May 6, 1962.