Compassion Is an Attitude

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Image courtesy worradmu @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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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Gospel (OT-NT Parallel)

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Isaiah 40:1-3 (NKJV)
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.
2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’s hand Double for all her sins.”

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV)
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Luke 2:10-14 (NKJV)
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Matthew 5:17-18 (NKJV)
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

John 19:30 (NKJV)
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Mark 16:5-6 (NKJV)
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.


 

God has sent Light and Life into the World via the Person of His Son.

He has demonstrated His desire for us to be at peace with Him.

He has cleared the way.

This is Good News.

A Savior Is Born (25)

 

A musical celebration of the Advent of the Christ.

The Call of Christmas

Wonder of all wonders
Outside of Bethlehem
Angels come to shepherds
Ordinary working men
Not the high and mighty
The powerful and great
But those who feel unwanted
That the world has pushed away

Hear the call of Christmas
All you lost and left behind
The lowly and those longing
With an emptiness inside
The forgotten and forsaken
I bring you good news
Hear the call of Christmas
The Savior waits for you

All who feel rejected
Unworthy and alone
We’re all undeserving of
The kindness we’ve been shown
Come behold the King of Kings
Find rest you weary souls
Lay down all your burdens
He will mend and make you whole

Hear the call of Christmas
All you lost and left behind
The lowly and those longing
With an emptiness inside
The forgotten and forsaken
I bring you good news
Hear the call of Christmas
The Savior waits for you

For all of those in need
Come find your hope and peace
Oh, do not be afraid
For He has come to save

Music Video by Zach Williams performing The Call of Christmas (Official Music Video). (C) 2017 Provident Label Group LLC, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

A Savior Is Born (23)

A musical celebration of the Advent of the Christ.

 

This is the reason we acknowledge the birth of Jesus of Nazareth as the Savior of the world.

*Zechariah 9:9-13 (NKJV)*
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

***As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.***

***Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you.***

For I have bent Judah, My bow, Fitted the bow with Ephraim, And raised up your sons, O Zion, Against your sons, O Greece, And made you like the sword of a mighty man.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The fulfillment of God’s promise of deliverance. THIS is the reason we celebrate the birth of Messiah, the Anointed, who came to save us from the pit of death into which we fell.