As I endeavor to become more and more like Jesus, I find it helpful to be practical from time to time. One of the things I feel that I’ve always been good at is critical thinking, and so sometimes I’ll intentionally put that to use in an examination of my faith. One thing that I think about is that if we desire to be more like Jesus, then we need to emulate not just his actions, but we need to understand his motivations. To me, one of the most beautiful prayers you can pray is asking to have the heart of God. Ask that your desires and pursuits be lined up with those of Jesus, that the things that matter most to Jesus will be the things that matter most to you.
With that in mind, I ask this question. What sorts of things moved Jesus to action? Because if we can find the things that moved him to action, then we can better understand his heart. This brings us to a beautiful moment from his ministry in chapter 7 of Luke.
Luke 7:12-13 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her.13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said.
Those who were sad and suffering moved Jesus’ heart. They affected him, the Bible tells us right here that his heart “overflowed with compassion.” Sometimes we get so caught up in the whole “God knows the past, present, and future” conundrum that we don’t fully appreciate that Jesus was also a man who from time to time ran into situations. He was approaching this gate just as a funeral procession was coming out. There was a large crowd, surely not every single member of the crowd and procession was visible, but Jesus caught sight of the widow who had just lost her son. And his heart overflowed with compassion.
It’s not my main point today, but I do want to say this. Be open to the situations that arise along the way. Jesus was a man with an important mission, but he was also a man who wasn’t so obsessed with his destination that he didn’t see the details along the way. Sometimes as believers we get our eyes set on some grand purpose, but never forget that the true grand purpose is assisting those hurting people we see along the way.
So Jesus’ heart overflowed with compassion. Did he pat the woman on the head and say “I’m sorry for your loss?” Did he frown and nod knowingly as she went past? Did he tell his disciples “That must be really rough for her?” No, those who are suffering move Jesus’ heart, and they move him to action.
Luke 7:14-15 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
There are those who will quickly say “that’s nice and all, but I can’t perform miracles” and if you’ll remember, we had this exact same hypothetical back and forth a few weeks ago.
John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.
Before you pronounce yourself incapable of doing what Jesus said, take the time to meditate on the fact that he said the exact opposite. HOWEVER, let’s not even get caught up on that. You may not feel capable of raising someone from the dead, but that doesn’t mean you’re incapable of doing SOMETHING for those who are hurting or in need.
I think all of modern Christianity can be summed up in the following scriptures.
James 2:14-17 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
If I can get real elementary for a moment, let me say it like this. There are a lot of “sayers” in the world right now, and far too few “doers”. Jesus was a doer. His heart was moved by those who were hurting and were suffering, and when he came across people like that he did something about it.
This truth leaves us with a few very tough questions we need to be asking ourselves. The first is this. Are our hearts moved to compassion by those who are hurting, suffering, and in need? I’ll be completely honest, there was a point in my life when the answer to that question was no. I didn’t love it that people were hurting, it’s not like I was a monster, but I’m not going to sit here and lie and say that my heart broke for them. I had my own problems to deal with, and I’d acknowledge that their situation in life was rough and I’d be glad that I wasn’t in their position. If that’s you today, I understand where you’re coming from, I was there once. God has slowly but surely replaced my selfish heart with His selfless one, and I assure you that if you’ll commit to a relationship with Him then the same will happen to you. So question one, do we even feel compassion for those who are hurting and suffering? I’d imagine the majority of people will say yes, that they feel some sense of compassion.
Which brings us to the actual question. And it’s a question people get really defensive about when you ask it. What action are you taking to help those people who are in need? And it’s a tough question because each one of us has at least twenty excuses we can rattle off to explain why we aren’t out there taking blankets to the homeless or praying with the ill and the forgotten at nursing homes. We’re barely scraping by, too busy, got our own problems to deal with, exhausted, working on making ourselves a better person before trying to help the world (that’s one of my favorites that people use), man do we have excuses. I get it. I’m tired too, and I’m also a really busy guy, but I also know that the goal is to look like Jesus and to act like Jesus and to care like Jesus. Jesus wasn’t a man of excuses, he was a man of action. He was busy too, every day carrying him closer and closer to a destiny that had eternal implications. Yet somehow he was never too busy to help those in need. I hope that at the end of my life, the same will be said of me.
Well, that closes out another week here on the Bible blog. I sure do love all of you. I’m not sure who you guys are that read this, but I know that it’s a real joy for me to be able to share this study of God’s word with you. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable weekend!
If you have any prayer requests or just have something you need to talk about, my email is always open to you at firstname.lastname@example.org