Image courtesy of Tom Curtis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tom Curtis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

{Matthew 9:36-38; NLT}

He [Jesus] felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn't know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”

One of the indications that I have matured in my faith has been my increased compassion for people. When I was younger it was easy for me to be judgmental of people because of the negative circumstances of their lives. After all, I thought, if they would make better choices they would avoid those painful situations.

While it is true that each of us is responsible for our own actions, I have come to realize that many choices are made because people just don't know there is a better way to live.

These people have had bad models for how to live life, and therefore don't know other options exist. They may want to change but they don't know where to begin.

The reality is that many of the sin addictions people have are coping mechanisms to deal with painful life circumstances. They want freedom, but now the chains of addictions hold them tight.

I get the impression from the Gospels that Jesus saw the people around Him as lost travellers rather than dirty rotten sinners. Jesus showed them compassion rather than condemnation. Jesus was the one person who could sit in judgment, but He chose to extend a helping hand instead.

When you believe you have a handle on the truth it is tempting to condemn people who don't live up to your standard of truth. Passing judgment on people makes us feel superior, because we turn the focus off our struggles with sin to the actions of other people. This belief that we know truth also gives us a sense that we are doing God's work, because we are standing up for God's truth.

The example Jesus gives us is one of compassion. Rather than seeking to condemn people, we are to offer them a helping hand. Time after time Jesus heals and forgives people who are trapped in the clutches of sin. That is how we are to live.

The Gospel demands that we live a life of compassion and not judgment. Remember it is not that the people of this world are bad people, but they are lost. They are enslaved by sin. This means what they need more than condemnation is guidance. It means they need encouragement and love more than they need judgment.

The first step in this journey of compassion is to pray. Prayer helps us gain a proper perspective on the world around us. It also helps us to align our hearts with God's heart.

In this passage Jesus tells us that we are to pray and ask God to send workers for harvest. There is a shortage of people who are able to show the lost the way home. The world needs more people to who are able to bring healing to hearts ravaged by sin.

Compassion is not just reserved to prayer; it also flows out of the way we live our lives. Jesus lived in such a way to show the people around Him that He knew the right Way to travel. As Jesus' followers we have that same responsibility for the way we live. Our lives are to be lights showing people that there is a better way to live.

We need a change of perspective. Instead of seeing the world as dirty rotten sinners, we need to see them as lost travelers trying desperately to get home.

Questions to consider:

  • Why is it easy to be judgmental about the way other people live?
  • How did Jesus treat those around him?
  • Why is it important for us to treat people with compassion?

 

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