Thursday, July 22, 2010
Today’s Topic: Compassion
Today’s Text: So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
Yesterday I told you there were two things that God had spoken to me while I was on vacation. They are both very closely related. It is obvious that God is preparing me…and you…for something He wants us to do. He wants us to get on with the work He has assigned to us. He wants us to be better witnesses of His saving grace to others. Here’s how He had prepared me to really hear yesterday’s point.
My wife and I were involved in a deep spiritual conversation with three other families we were visiting on our trip. Tough questions were being asked and answered. One couple in particular is being worked on mightily by the Holy Spirit in regards to a total transformation of priorities and possible pursuit of ministry. Their passion to know the truth and to stand on it and stand up for it against all error is obvious. I could see so much of myself in them as they spoke of the deception of so many teachings that have invaded the modern church.
As we talked, I noticed how easy it was to let pride in what we know to be true dominate and determine our attitudes towards those who do not believe as we do. We found ourselves speaking harshly about them as we judged the condition of their hearts by the church they attended or the things they say they believed. We had consciously delegated everyone who didn’t understand the truth of the Gospel into the category of Pharisee and therefore felt justified to speak against them.
That’s when the Holy Spirit addressed me with two thoughts. First, He pointed out to me that when Jesus came to earth He came to a culture that was completely dominated by a false belief system. They had knowledge of God, but denied the truth and saving power of the coming Messiah.
Yet Jesus had compassion on them and ministered to them. (When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36)
He sought to save them. (The Son of Man has come to seek and to save those who are lost. Luke 19:10)
He didn’t condemn them. (For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17)
Sure, He confronted the spiritual leaders who were leading them astray because of their own pride. But Jesus never put the average church-goer into the category of Pharisee.
After the Holy Spirit revealed that truth to me, and as I was sharing it with the group, words came out of my mouth that I had not previously contemplated. They were under the direct supervision of the Holy Spirit. After I said them there was a stunned look on the faces of those listening, and there was total silence. Someone finally spoke, and they asked, “Can you repeat that?” I was afraid I couldn’t, but the Holy Spirit gave it to me again.
Now obviously the context of that meeting is different from this article, and the context of your life is different from theirs. But the truth of this statement transcends all of that. Open your heart to receive what the Lord has delivered. Be prepared to be convicted. Be prepared to be enabled to witness about Jesus better. Make a commitment right now that you are going to let God change your heart if it needs to be.
Here’s what the Lord said through me – The hurt we have in our hearts over their condition must always be greater than the pride we take in our position.
Compassion over condemnation…ALWAYS!
Humility over pride…ALWAYS!
Now, with that in mind, read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 and see how the father reflects this truth in his actions towards his son when he returns home.
Then, with a humble heart, ask the Holy Spirit to transform your heart so that the hurt you have for the rotting sinner will lead you to harvest them for Jesus because they are ripe, rather than letting your heart continue to condemn others because they don’t measure up to what you know to be true.