Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Being Christ-like: The Priority of Compassion

Matthew 9:35-37 - And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest."

Matthew 9:35 gives a great summary of the work that Christ did while he ministered on earth. He met people's needs both spiritually and physically. In verse 35, I like how it says that he healed EVERY disease and EVERY affliction. This shows the extent of both his love and his power. In verse 36, we see the motivation behind his ministry: he had compassion on the people. The Greek verb refers to being greatly moved by a sympathetic love. Often times this emotion solicits involvement (Matt. 14:14; Mk 1:41; Mk 6:34; Lk 7:13; Lk 10:33).

Having compassion requires recognizing the needs of others around us and rather than scoffing at their condition, thus taking heart to where they are at and showing them mercy. Compassion requires humility, in that we must look beyond our own comforts to meet the needs of those hurting. Jesus was moved and motivated by the harassed and helpless because he saw that they were the ones with a need. In Matthew 9:12 Jesus says, "those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick." Jesus did not spend his time with the spiritual elite. Rather he spent the limited amount of time that God gave him on earth with the "sinners" and "tax collectors." He taught those that society ignored. He helped the broken-hearted. He healed the wounded.

Jesus recognized the need for workers for this hurting world. In response, he told his disciples to pray in a specific way. They were to petition to God and ask that he send people to help with this great task. In this prayer they were making a plea to God, whuch was not far from begging. Therefore, this shows that the need is great. Could you be part of that answer?

We are all given a small amount of time on earth. How much time have you committed to showing compassion to others? Who are some people that need to be shown some of God's love? If you say you do not know of anyone, there are hurting people all around. All you have to do is pray and ask God to show you who. It is easier to stay around healthy happy people who love Jesus just like us. But Christ has called us to reap His harvest. In doing so, we must go out, being motivated by compassion, and reach out to a world in need. God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.

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