(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.)
Psalm 82:3-4 Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Do you know what my first reaction was to this week’s key verse? (Psalm 82:3-4)
“To whom is God talking?”
I wanted to know. Who is God’s Spirit telling to “defend the weak” to “uphold the cause of the poor” and to “Rescue the weak.”
Why did I ask that?
Because I was hoping I would be off the hook.
When I look at the context there is a direct application to the kings of the people of Israel who were being influenced by the wicked and unjust. These words were correcting them as people in a position of power and authority to defend the defenseless and deliver them from the wicked.
So I’m off the hook, right?
Neither are you.
This is just one example of the encouragement God has given to us to love those around us, especially those that are unable to help themselves. For sure our culture in America has created many “safety” nets that weren’t at the time of King David, Jesus or the Apostles. But the heart is the same. Here’s just a few examples:
Jesus acknowledges our works of faith to help those in need are noticed and recognized by our Father in heaven.
Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
The Apostles found faithful men to help with distribution of food items in the early church.
Acts 6:1-4 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
James, the half-brother of Jesus, encouraged Christians to see helping those in need as a primary work of faith.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
There is no question that the Lord, who is compassionate, desires his people to have a similar heart of compassion.
I will be the first to admit and the first to repent that I struggle with showing compassion. I’ve been burned personally and as a pastor and, rarely have I felt good that I have really helped someone, but more often felt used by that person.
But here is the truth that God reminds me in this. The reaction or the response of the person is not the driver of compassion, the heart and compassion of God is the driver behind us showing compassion.
The Bible verse says, “We love because he first loved us.”
It could easily say also, “We are compassionate, because God was compassionate to me first.”
Apply: Notice this week opportunities to show compassion. How does your heart respond? Resistant? Open? Ask God’s Spirit to work the compassion of God deeper into your heart to enable you to more readily show compassion to others. (MORE tomorrow on how to determine the NEED when we show compassion.)
Prayer: Father, forgive my callous heart when it comes to showing compassion. Lead me to look to the immeasurable compassion you have shown to me as the source and motivation to show compassion to others. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.