Sympathy says: “You poor thing! I wish I could help.”
Compassion says: “You poor thing! Let me help.”
– Curry Blake, General Overseer, John G. Lake Ministries
I heard in one of Blake’s teachings that sympathy is a soul-level emotion while compassion is a spirit-level ‘emotion’. When you pray for someone to whom you are emotionally very attached and get sentimental while praying, you are actually doing them a disfavour. That’s because you are not giving them your best prayer which comes from your spirit – the compassion-driven prayer. Jesus was driven by compassion. He could not have been emotionally attached to anyone (from what we read in the Bible) except of course his parents and a few others. So the prayer (or commands) that came out from him were spirit-level – the best that he had to offer:
“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” – Mark 8:2
Jesus himself says here that he had compassion on the people. What happened later? He went ahead and fed the multitudes (“You poor thing! Let me help.”).
And of course, we know what success rate Jesus demonstrated with his compassion – 100%!