(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Randy Frazee entitled, “BELIEVE.”
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
Did I mention this week I struggle with showing compassion? (If not, I’ll probably say it a few more times. Thanks for reading devotions I’m writing for myself!)
I’ve gotten burned…a lot.
I’ve had people buy alcohol with money they said they needed for rent. I’ve been swindled out of $1000s of dollars when it was said it would be repaid. I’ve had bags of food given back to me after telling me that I wasn’t doing enough to help. I’ve had people “expect” the church to give them what they want. I’ve had a deadbeat dad send his wife and child into the church to beg for money while he reclined in the passenger seat of the car.
The stories could go on.
I struggle to drive through an intersection where there is a “homeless” person asking for help without feeling guilty for not helping or hoping the light is green so I don’t have to make eye contact.
Yep, I struggle with compassion for those “in need.”
While, I don’t know the backstory of every individual, I have seen enough evidence of mishandling of money, self-made issues, and multiple reports of “homeless” making $200-250/day tax free to question quite deeply if someone really has a true need. (Sorry for all those that truly have fallen on hard times, it is often ruined by those that have taken advantage of other people’s generosity.)
Have you been burned?
I’m sure at some point you have.
So how do I/we reclaim a heart of compassion?
First – as was mentioned in yesterday’s devotion remember that Generosity is not dependent on a person’s reaction to it, but on the compassionate heart of God. Our generosity does one thing and one thing only: Reflects the heart of God.
If someone misuses your generosity, it is on their conscience not yours.
That being said, I always marvel at Jesus’ ability (probably because he was the Son of God) to know the true need isn’t always the presenting ask. Here’s an example in
Mark 6:34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
If you read Mark 6 it was a busy day/week for Jesus. He had sent out the 12…they had just returned and wanted to tell Jesus all about their experiences. John the Baptist, the cousin and friend of Jesus, had just been beheaded. The crowds were pursuing Jesus that they were hungry and needed time alone. They went away by themselves, but the people saw them leaving and pursued them.
I would have kept going. I wouldn’t have wanted to be bothered. Not Jesus.
He had compassion on them, because he understood their biggest need. They were spiritually lost sheep wandering to find direction. The most important need they had that drove Jesus’ heart of compassion was the need for love, grace and forgiveness. Even though he ends up feeding the 5000 that followed him, he fed their greatest need with his presence and teaching FIRST!
I love this account because, based on last week’s key truth, I remember that everyone needs Jesus. That is their greatest need. The presenting issue may be a need for food, money for prescriptions, or a bus ticket, but underneath is potentially a lost sheep spiritually.
Jesus found a way to give them what they needed: His Word, His love, His forgiveness.
Perhaps I can do the same.
Apply: What ideas do you have to meet someone’s spiritual need before or along with meeting their physical need?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for a heart of compassion for the spiritually lost and hurting. I was one of those at one point that captured your heart. Help me to bring the solution to every human being’s greatest need to their heart. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.