Compassion Is an Attitude

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For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me. ~Matthew 25:35-36 ESV

These words of Christ have “haunted” me for years, particularly since this statement is later contrasted with His declaration to those who did not do these things (it’s not a happy thing, btw).

And sometimes, I write to get the thoughts out of my head.

I know there is a practical application here. John the Baptist addressed it when he instructed the repentant among his audience to share their possessions and food; and to act in an honest and just manner while engaging in business and other public duties (Luke 3:10-14).

John (the beloved disciple) also wrote of the importance of acting in love rather than just talking about it. James also reminded readers of the necessity of living in a compassionate manner.

“But if anyone has the world’s good and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18 ESV).

Helping others in a practical way is certainly good thing.

However, in the greater context of scripture, there is deeper significance to what Jesus was saying. As always, He hit straight at the “heart” of the matter, regarding the motivation for doing such things. In fact, every material humanitarian effort He listed in Matthew 25 has a spiritual parallel that can be located elsewhere in scripture.

1. Food for the hungry: (Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD ~Deuteronomy 8:3; “I am the Bread of Life” ~ Jesus. John 6:36-51)

2. Drink for the thirsty: (Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinkis of the Water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The Water that I will give him will become in him a spring of Water welling up to eternal life.” ~ John 4:13-14 ESV)

3. Welcome the stranger (Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels (messengers of God) unawares.~ Hebrews 13:2 ESV)

4. Clothing the naked: Clothing, in scripture often represents righteousness before God. Or it depicts the glory of an honored position. Our need for physical covering reminds us that we must have a reliable way for our own unrighteousness to be seen by Him. When God had to send Adam and Eve from the Garden, His parting gift to them was clothing made from animal skins (Genesis 3). It was a reminder to them (and us) that God Himself would provide covering for their shame.

Ironically, we read in Luke 23:34 of both God’s covering love and the casting of lots for the earthly clothing of Christ, who hung naked and exposed during His crucifixion. (And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they known not what they do. And they cast lots to divide His garments. ~ Luke 23:34 ESV)

(See also “ Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends”. Proverbs 17:9 ESV; “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8)

5. Visit the sick: Those who do not know God are sick in their hearts. Even if they do not know it.

6. Go to the Prisoners: This is a difficult one to address, as I do not intend to belittle prison ministry in any way. But I want to highlight the fact that not all prisoners are locked away. In fact, there are far more individuals walking free who are literal prisoners to emotional disorders, various addictions, abusive relationships, compulsions to self-harm etc… Their souls are truly existing in a state of “hell” and they cannot find a way out on their own. And Jesus wants us to notice and go to them in love, praying that God will release them from their bondage, rather than stand back and judge them for not performing better. If His Life is flowing out of you like water, you will not be “contaminated” by these people. Just as Jesus was not contaminated by touching ceremonially unclean people in NT accounts. (“And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” ~ Jude 1:22-23 ESV)

The criteria for judgment in Matthew 25 is not “how many wonderful humanitarian works did you do?”

The measurement is whether such things were done “in Christ’s name”, with the intent to share hope for healing, given out of love for the soul of the other individual.

 

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Just Wondering

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Have you ever considered that when professing believers bicker, gossip, hold grudges and generally refuse to work together that we are directly opposing Jesus’ John 17 prayer that His family live together in unity?

 

I Am That I Am

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Exodus 3:14-15 (NKJV)

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’.”
Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God or Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever and this is My memorial to all generations.”

I Am. The Self-existent One of the ancient Hebrew texts has revealed Himself to us through the Man, Jesus of Nazareth.

John 18:4-6 (NKJV) Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.

Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Mark 14:61-62 (NKJV) But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Revelation 1:12-18 (NKJV)
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;

His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Thoughts on Christian Culture 6: Can You Handle The Truth?

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Can I handle it?

 

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NKJV)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

•Things Christians are not promised in this life, through scripture:

~family approval
~popularity among peers
~satisfying love life
~wealth
~perfect physical health
~social respectability
~political influence
~fashionable clothing
~fun career
~earthly possessions
~freedom to be whatever we want
~leisure time

These are all worldly (temporal) goals. These things can make our existence more pleasant, or convenient; and can sometimes be considered a blessing by those who manage to keep things in proper perspective.

But Christians are supposed to be looking ahead to something better.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NKJV)
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

•We are actually told to expect:

~misunderstanding
~rejection
~active opposition
~loss of personal possessions
~spiritual discernment regarding sin
~generalized struggle with our own self-indulgent sin nature
~God’s provision in God’s timing
~prayer support (and accountability) from other believers

Matthew 6:10-12
John 15:18-19
John 16:33
Luke 11:3
Romans 7:18; 8:13
Galatians 5:13
1 Corinthians 5:11-13
James 5:16
2 Timothy 3:12

Thoughts on Christian Culture 5: Arrogance

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Two faces of pride:

~ I am always right.
~I cannot believe I did something wrong.

The first response refuses to acknowledge sin.
The second one wallows in self-pity.

Either way, the focus remains on personal performance instead of the need to seek God’s forgiveness.

Engraved Invitation

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Luke 14:12-14 (NKJV) Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.
And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Mark 2:16-17 (NKJV) And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

John 6:35 (NKJV) And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voic and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. ~ Jesus

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jesus IS the feast. He has been given freely to revive us poor, blind, deaf and lame beggars.

Those of us who have been given access to His table should remember how unworthy we are as we graciously invite others to join us.

We have no right to close them out or simply toss a few stale crumbs at them.