THIS WEEK: A Mission-Minded Person Has a Caring Heart!
Devotions: Monday February 8, 2021
Mission Minded: Caring Heart: The Struggle
True confession. I struggle.
Every time a conversation about the homeless issue in Austin comes on the radio.
Every time I drive past an intersection with someone begging for “anything helps.”
Every time the phone at church rings and the voice shares a request for money or food help.
Why do I struggle?
Because I’ve been burned.
- Our church in North Carolina was marked in phone books (remember those) in a local hotel so transients would call our church because we had chosen to help someone. It was an “underground” network to communicate to others where you could get a free handout.
- In Minnesota I had a person hand back groceries we had given to her claiming that we weren’t showing the love of Christ because we didn’t give her enough and care for the poor like we should.
- As a kid, I watched my dad give a person money who claimed a hardship story only to follow him to the local liquor store and watch him come out with a supply of booze.
- Watching a documentary on “Moochers” years ago that shows “homeless” people at an intersection “make” a salary of $50,000 or more a year tax free.
Why do I struggle? Because my sinful nature uses these experiences to excuse a callous heart that feels justified in looking the other way to human need. My judgment leads me to believe that many take advantage of the generosity and compassion of others to feed their addictions, laziness, and attitude of entitlement. So I become content to not show compassion and care.
So I struggle when I hear Jesus say:
Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Why do I struggle with these words? Because I’ve never seen Jesus in these situations. So I ask like the righteous to whom Jesus was talking:
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I struggle because Jesus exposes the misdirected attitude of my heart.
We can have a discussion about how best to care for people, or what the real need is, but Jesus points out he desires an attitude of the heart that sees caring for others as an opportunity to care for Jesus.
I’ve missed a lot of opportunities. I need Jesus’ forgiveness. I need his heart of caring and compassion to replace my calloused and closed heart. I need the Spirit to create in me a new heart that may struggle with how to care, but never struggles with a heart to care.
Apply: As you go through your day today, see every opportunity you have to care for others (at home, at work, at school, etc.) as serving Jesus.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for a perfect heart of compassion. Forgive me for missed opportunities and lack of compassion. Lead me to reflect your love to others more and more. AMEN.