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Compassion

May 23rd, 2014

“When Jesus saw the people, He was moved with compassion for them.” Matthew 9:36 NAS.

Compassion provokes a personal identification with the plight of another.

My thoughts and comments today are about “compassion.”

Problems loom large; needs are expansive and solutions seem elusive. Marriages and families struggle; politics are divisive; global situations impose locally; poverty and hunger remain undiminished; government partisanship and ineptitude prevent solutions; unsustainable public and personal debt accumulates; clashes of ideologies and cultures increase; crime and violence intrudes our neighborhoods. Life can be a bit numbing. Understandably, a person could feel overwhelmed.

What is an ordinary person to do? It is easy to become so engulfed in one’s own struggles that you have little reserves for anything beyond your daily concerns. Such a life is too small and ultimately unsatisfying. As a young pastor, I learned these helpful words, “I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” God expects nothing more of you than that, but He also expects nothing less. Compassion is evidenced by corresponding action. “Let us . . love with actions and in truth.” Read 1 John 3:16-18 NIV.

As always, Jesus is your example. “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching . .  preaching . .  and healing every sickness and disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:35-37 NKJV. Notice what moved the heart of Jesus – “multitudes . . like sheep having no shepherd.”

They were a vast number of people, yet each feeling alone without a shepherd to care and provide their unmet needs. More people feel that way than you might realize. Jesus’ invitation remains, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Others saw a crowd; Jesus saw people.

Others may have seen an inconvenience to themselves or interruption to their plans; Jesus saw suffering individuals needing both Savior and Shepherd. When Jesus saw the multitudes, their separation and aloneness “moved” Him with compassion. Compassion is a deeply held emotion, yet so much more. Jesus felt what they felt. Their plight became His concern. Pity and sympathy are common; compassion is uncommon. I remember simple lyrics from years earlier, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

Compassion provokes a personal identification with the plight of another, generating a Godly motivation to provide relief. When you are compassionate, you are most like God. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV. Authentic and Godly compassion is not optional; “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” 1 Peter 3:8 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you are tender toward things that break God’s heart.

Below, I have added the link to a brief, musical video that references the song I mentioned in this devotional.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2KOluWrjU8

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