Greed, a selfish cancer, eats at the heart of every human being if his soul is not washed by the Holy Spirit through His Word. The only way to get rid of the old selfish nature is a supernatural grafting of a new nature: an act of the Holy Spirit.
The word compassion contains the word passion. When one is consumed with passion toward something, be assured that person’s inner being is overwhelmed with the person or thing toward which that passion draws him. Compassion is the opposite of the trait of selfishness. Jesus possessed compassion for people beyond any comparison. He showed compassion for people with physical ailments, people with emotional problems, and people with spiritual needs. Compassion is a word of action. A compassionate person finds a way to carry out his passion.
Jesus was unselfish. His passion for human needs drove Him relentlessly, daily …and finally to the cross of crucifixion. Jesus loved all people regardless of how they looked, how they acted, or how they treated Him. If Jesus had opportunity, He went out of His way to help the downtrodden and the sick. His life exemplified compassion for all people. He acted upon His innermost longing to help those who needed help.
Through the working of the Holy Ghost in believers who have been filled, the same compassionate spirit pours from the believer and operates daily in his life.
When others misunderstood our Lord and ridiculed Him and mocked Him, He kept His heart and mind clear of their misunderstanding and their hatred toward Him and His purpose. He relentlessly pursued His ministry, performing the Father’s will. Compassion poured from Him like a torrent of many waters.
Within the heart of every believer must burn a fervent desire to be like Christ Jesus …to possess the identical passion for lost humanity and the burning fervor for a will which yields to helping those in need. The Scriptures tell us of the compassion of Jesus toward individuals and toward multitudes of people alike. When we study and gain knowledge of the circumstances and of individuals on whom Jesus poured His compassion, it will spark desire in our souls to be like Him! In doing so, we will develop a compassionate spirit. This study must come with a prayerful heart. Allow the work of the Holy Spirit to pour forth the compassion Jesus has.
There are nine recorded instances in the Bible where Jesus was MOVED INTO ACTION because of His compassion. Many other references are recorded exemplifying the compassion of Jesus, but in these nine instances the word “compassion” and the words “moved with compassion” are used.
A chorus I have sung for years keeps going through my mind as I am writing about the compassionate life Jesus lived. Compassion was His life-style. If you know the following chorus, sing it now and it will do a work in your soul:
“To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, on earth I long to be like Him. All through life’s journey, from earth to glory, I only ask to be like Him!”
As a believer with rivers of living water flowing from the innermost of our being, we must allow the river of compassion to flow upon these:
“As Jesus looked at the vast crowds, he was deeply moved with pity for them, for they were as bewildered and miserable as a flock of sheep with no shepherd. `The harvest is great enough,’ he remarked to his disciples, `but the reapers are few. So you must pray to the Lord of the harvest to send men out to bring it in”‘ (Matthew 9:36-38, Phillips).
I was in New York City a short time ago. As I rode the subways and the Amtrak trains, my heart felt as if it would actually burst as I looked into the faces of lost people. Almost all of these people had expressions of total despair. The sadness and hopelessness on their countenances caused me to wonder, “How can I reach these people with the Good News that Jesus can make them happy and fulfilled?” Of course, I could not barge into their private lives and begin to tell them how forlorn they looked. However, sometimes the Holy Spirit prompts us to witness to total strangers on a “one-on-one” basis. My burden for these masses of lost people drives me to intercede for laborers to be sent by the Lord to these people. Perhaps it may be their next-door neighbor who knows Christ and has not witnessed to them. It may be a coworker who stands or sits beside them every day whom God will pour His message of salvation through.
I pray for these lost ones: “Heavenly Father, send a messenger – a believer who will influence each of their lives and be a witness for the Lord Jesus. Give these lost a tender heart and fertile soil to receive the Word of God with an open mind. May each one of these, regardless of nationality, creed, or color, find true salvation before they plunge into eternity without a witness!”
It is true, we cannot relate the gospel of Jesus to every person we see, no matter how much compassion we feel; however, this should never be a “cop-out” and cause us not to witness to anyone. We will answer to God for those with whom we come in contact and the Holy Spirit prompts us to allow Him to do a work through us in that individual. Witness to the lost! Intercede for the lost! Ask God for an open door and then to give wisdom to walk through that door to be a witness to the lost.
THE SICK AND HURTING
An expert in the law stood one day and questioned Jesus publicly, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
When Jesus asked this lawyer how he read the law concerning this question, he answered Jesus that according to the law he must love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and his neighbor as himself. Jesus told him he had answered correctly. Then Jesus proceeded to give a beautiful parable concerning loving your neighbor:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,’ he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10).
The Holy Spirit desires to flow through believers to help the sick and hurting. The man who had been beaten and robbed was hurting physically as well as emotionally. We must at times “get our hands dirty” because the compassion of Jesus flows through us. This is a challenge for every believer. But true Christianity helps the hurting.
My four-year-old grandson came in from playing one day calling for his daddy. Grant was crying and he was angry. His dad inquired about what had gone wrong. Grant burst out, “I don’t LIKE Jamie anymore!” Something had happened at play that had caused an upset.
“But,” Grant’s daddy wisely replied, “We must pray for Jamie.”
Grant, angrier than ever, cried, “I don’t want to pray for Jamie! I want to beat him up, take everything he has and leave him by the wayside, JUST like the good Samaritan.”
Obviously, Grant had gotten the good Samaritan story somewhat mixed up, but this is the way human nature sometimes reacts when it has been hurt. Since that time, Grant has become a true believer and is witnessing to his little friends at play. He is five now, and when his little friend confided in him that sometimes he becomes frightened at night alone in his room, Grant admonished him strongly, “The Bible says `Fear not,’ and when you are afraid, if you will say `JESUS!’…the devil will run away and NEVER come back again!”
COMPASSION! We meet people every day who have REAL HURTS, both physically and emotionally. We can make a difference by having compassion upon them instead of showing disdain or instead of being too hurried with our own interests to stop and do the work of a compassionate Christian.
There should be a flow of good will and compassion from the heart of the Christian toward not only the physically blind, but also the spiritually blind. So many times it is easy to allow the old human nature to override what the spirit of Christ logs to accomplish through you to a person who is truly blind to the truth of the gospel.
We can wrap our self-righteous rags tightly around us and become arrogant toward those who possibly have never had the opportunity to hear the whole truth of the Word of God. When we despise those who are ignorant of the Word, we are actually bringing judgment upon ourselves. The Scripture says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shaft thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5). These are the words of the most compassionate man that ever lived: Jesus!
Notice, Jesus did not say in this Scripture we should never cast out a beam or mote from our brother’s or sister’s eye, but that we first must consider our own state. It will ALWAYS happen that when we begin to search our own heart and cleanse ourselves from unrighteousness, we will go to our knees in repentance and ask for forgiveness. We must consider the prerequisite for our forgiveness is our forgiving others. When we forgive others – totally forgive others of EVERYTHING – then, and only then, are we ready to attempt to correct the vision of our brother or sister. By the time we have humbled ourselves before the great throne of God and received His gracious forgiveness, all arrogance and self-righteousness is gone. Then, with a right spirit the spirit of the compassionate Christ – we can minister to the needs of others.
Jesus brought the physical sight back to several who were blind. We have many testimonies of blind eyes being opened in our day. All glory goes to the power of our God! Did not Jesus say, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17,18, NIV).
Again, I must emphasize, we are not to go and lay hands on EVERY sick person we see; but the Holy Spirit will direct the believer who truly puts his or her trust in Him and whose faith rises to the occasion to lay hands on the sick, the blind, and those who have all kinds of sicknesses and diseases. A believer should have no fear of the transfer of a disease or an evil spirit as we lay our hands on those who need a supernatural touch from God. Jesus promised His followers who did His bidding: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).
Immediately He left a word of admonition: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Three times, the Scripture records Jesus’ compassion, reaching to the person whose relative had died. Jairus, the father of a twelve-year-old girl, came to Jesus with his need. The father only asked Jesus to “speak the word,” and his need would be fulfilled; however, Jesus, with the crowds pushing and shoving for His attention, went with Jairus to his house. What a beautiful gesture! Jesus COULD HAVE spoken the word and the work would have been done, but His compassion drove Him to the home of the bereaved. The Christian’s compassion will drive him to the home of the bereaved or to the funeral home or to some point of contact with the bereaved. Sometimes no words need to be exchanged. A loving touch, an understanding hug, or just the presence of one who cares means much to one who is stricken with grief. Do not expect the grief torn soul to greet you with bubbling enthusiasm. Remember that individual’s heart is torn and broken over the loss of a loved one.
The dead have been raised (and praise God for it), but even Jesus did not raise every dead person back to life.
In a lonely waiting room in a hospital, I sat beside a grief-stricken mother and daddy whose three year old darling little girl had drowned. The doctor, with tears streaming down his face, came out and said these words, “We did all we could!” I actually felt the pain physically. All I could do was tighten my arm around the shaking shoulders of the young mother. She did not expect words. There were no words at that time. Can we feel the pain of others? I believe we believers MUST feel the pain of the bereaved.
The widow of Nain was walking beside the casket of her son. She was on her way to the cemetery to say the final good-byes. Did Jesus just “happen” to come along? I believe not. This is the only record we have of Jesus going to the city of Nain. If we will ask God for guidance each day, He will direct us to situations that perhaps will be a “once-in-a-lifetime” happening. These situations will allow us to pour forth the compassion of Jesus.
“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not” (Luke 7:13).
Jesus spoke these words from a heart filled with compassion to a mother whose son had died. Only two words were spoken to her, but those two words were filled with heartfelt compassion. He TOUCHED the bier and raised her son from the dead.
The sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, were good friends of Jesus. They had entertained Him in their home. Lazarus, their brother and a friend of Jesus, died. Mary and Martha, heartbroken, sent for Jesus. They knew He could help them bear their grief.
Friendships play an integral part when death comes to a family. Nobody understands quite like a close friend. The close friend has a sense of “knowing” when to be quiet and when to give a word of advice or encouragement. A Spirit-filled Christian should be ready to do whatever Jesus would have him to when a friend faces grief and sorrow.
Mary and Martha were sorely disappointed when Jesus arrived. He came four days after their brother died. But in the midst of their disappointment, Jesus brought a supernatural happening. We may not be able to raise the dead to life, but we can bring with us the loving, caring spirit of Christ.
Do not allow disappointments to deter you from following the commands of Jesus in your life. Overcome your own feelings of hurt quickly and push forward to do the will of God. Jesus could have taken the feelings of Mary and Martha so deeply personal that it could have kept Him from doing the Father’s will. Not so with Jesus! He knew His purpose and pursued it. We must mature to the place of commitment to the will of God and shed very quickly any personal insults and personal hurts. God will give His children strength not to take offense in hurtful situations. When we carry a “chip on our shoulder” because of some personal emotional injury, it is impossible to carry on the work the Holy Spirit desires to do through us.
“…Lay aside every WEIGHT…which doth so EASILY beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto JESUS the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:1,2).
To the believer in the righteousness of God, the prostitute, the homosexual, the people who defile their bodies with all manner of perversion are unclean people. We consider smoking, drinking, abusive language, cursing and gluttony as defilement of the temple of God. Our world contains millions of people who daily defile their bodies with some of the above mentioned abuses. Sometimes even people who have conmmitted to follow Jesus fall into temptations, and we see them partaking in things that defile the temple which God ordained to glorify only Him.
We must guard against becoming bitter toward these people. The devil walks about as a roaring lion devouring and deceiving. Keep in mind that the two spirit worlds war against one another the world of evil spirits wars against the Kingdom of God. Believers who possess the Holy Ghost must reach out with love for these defiled people, not agree with them in their sin, but help them overcome by pointing them to a Savior. Jesus can bring them UP out of their sins into a marvelous new life. Let us see these depraved individuals not as they are, but through eyes of faith see what they CAN BE when God gives them a new life in Him! “And of some have COMPASSION, MAKING A DIFFERENCE” (Jude 1:22).
The woman Jesus met at the well had lived a sinful life and was living in sin by living with a man to whom she was not married. Jesus had compassion, telling her of living water that would satisfy her longing to be loved and her desire to belong and not to be rejected. She needed compassion to reach for her, not rebuke and condemnation. Jesus did not rebuke her and condemn her; He only showed her a NEW WAY OF LIFE. This is a classic example of the Spirit of Jesus which should flow through the believer in this twisted, perverted, and confused world today.
The arm of compassion should always reach for the less fortunate, both in the country in which we live and in other countries.
Jesus commanded the rich young ruler who asked Him about eternal life (after the young man told Jesus he had kept the commandments) to sell what he had and GIVE TO THE POOR. Jesus knew the man’s heart. He knew being rich in this world’s goods often caused the heart of man to forget what it is like to be poor.
On different occasions Jesus emphasized that the Gospel be preached to the poor. The poor in this world’s goods deserve respect:
“Don’t ever attempt, my brothers, to combine snobbery with faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ! Suppose one man comes into your meeting well-dressed and with a gold ring on his finger, and another man, obviously poor, arrives in shabby clothes. If you pay special attention to the well-dressed man by saying, `Please sit here …it’s an excellent seat,’ and say to the poor man, `You stand over there, or if you must sit, sit on the floor by my feet,’ doesn’t that prove that you are making class distinctions in your mind, and setting yourselves up to assess a man’s quality from wrong motives? For do notice, my dear brothers, that God chose poor men, whose only wealth was their faith, and made them heirs to the Kingdom promised to those who love him. And if you behave as I have suggested, it is the poor man that you are insulting. Look around you. Isn’t it the rich who are always trying to rule your lives, isn’t it the rich who drag you into litigation? Isn’t it usually the rich who blaspheme the glorious name by which you are known?” (James 2, Phillips).
When the disciples of Jesus were tired, and the throngs kept pushing for more from Jesus; the disciples asked Jesus to send the crowds away. Jesus thought differently. This was an atmosphere for a miracle! Jesus reminded His followers that these people were very hungry. They had been following for three days without food. Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes and fed the great multitude of people, multiplying the food for them. He had compassion on the hungry multitude. Note: It was not the RESPONSIBILITY of Jesus nor of the disciples to feed the hungry people. The people CHOSE to be in their situation. However, the law of compassion bled through and Jesus showed us a great example of dealing with the poor and hungry people of this world!
Excerpted from “SpiritWorks” by Fredi Trammell. This book can be ordered from the Pentecostal Publishing House.