Compassion: We Are Called to Share God’s Love!

BELIEVE — Compassion: We Are Called to Share God’s Love!

God tells us that He is the God of Compassion.  So this morning we’re going to dig into that key aspect of God.  We want to make sure that we have a good understanding of what compassion is and how we can grow in being God’s partners in spreading compassion in our world.

The dictionary defines compassion as feeling sympathy or pity for the suffering of others.  The Bible takes the term compassion much further.  The Bible teaches us that it’s not enough just to feel sympathy or pity.  God wants us to step up and do something to help solve the problem.  The Bible defines compassion as recognizing the suffering of others and then taking action to help them.

We know that we all want people to be compassionate with us.  That’s not hard to figure out.  What is hard to figure out is – Is it worth the effort for you and me to be compassionate to others the way that God is compassionate towards us?  We’ll start by getting a better understanding of what God really wants from us. 

What Does God Really Want from Us?

Knowing Who God is and what God wants from us – is not always easy to figure out.  Moses was amazed that after spending 40 years hanging out in the desert – he had the incredible privilege of being able to talk with God.  In his conversations with God, Moses kept asking, Who are You?  How can I possibly explain to other people what you want from us?  God’s answer – to Moses and all of us is – I’ll make this easy.  I am the LORD Who created everything – and I am the God of Compassion and Mercy.  You can let people know that what I really want from them – is for them to join Me in being compassionate and merciful.

Exodus 34:6-7 (NLT)    The LORD declared to Moses, I am Yahweh — The LORD!  I am the God of compassion and mercy!  I am slow to anger and filled with never-ending love and faithfulness.

Some people think that the Old Testament presents God as mean and angry.  Yes, the Old Testament does show us that God hates sin and how sin hurts and destroys people.  But God’s main focus is on helping people to overcome the damage of sin by showing them that they are loved and that God wants to help them to reach their full potential.   

Psalm 82:3-4 (NLT)    The LORD says, Defend the poor and the orphans.  Uphold the rights of the oppressed.  Rescue the weak and the helpless …from the grasp of evil people.

Throughout the Old Testament – God keeps sharing what He really wants from people. Other faiths – taught that their false gods expected people to show their loyalty and faith by doing horrible things like sacrificing their children.  God has a simple – life building instead of life-destroying – plan for all of us. 

Micah 6:7-8 (MSG)    Does God want me to sacrifice my child, my precious baby, to pay for my sins?   God has shown us what is good and how God wants us to live:  Do what is fair and just to your neighbor.  Be compassionate and merciful.  Walk humbly with your God.

  

What does God really want from you and me?  God doesn’t ask us to pay Him a million dollars or sacrifice our children.  What God really wants from us – is to join God in living out compassion.  Compassion is so important to God – that Jesus showed us that Compassion is the only way that we can fulfill God’s Law.

How Do You Fulfill God’s Law?

If you have ever read the Bible – you know that Jesus had a lot of battles with other Jewish religious leaders.  The big problem was that the Jewish Leaders – Pharisees and Sadducees – emphasized that the point of God’s Law was to make sure that everyone knows exactly what God’s commands are.  And if they step out of line the purpose of the law is to punish them, make them pay!  According to the Jewish religious leaders, the purpose of the Law is to literally put the fear of God in people.  And they were more than happy to step up and stone sinners to death – to make sure that nobody missed the message.

Jesus – declared that the Jewish religious leaders had completely missed God’s real purpose for the Law.  Jesus agreed that the Law is important.  But the purpose of the Law was not to condemn and destroy people.  The real purpose of the Law – is to show people what is right and wrong – in order to guide them in making good life-building choices.  And when they make mistakes – the goal is not to destroy people.  Instead, God’s goal is to help them learn from their mistakes, heal their lives and put them on the right path.  Instead of condemning and killing people – Jesus said the goal of God’s Law was not to kill people – but to encourage them to come back to the path of life.

Matthew 9:11-13 (NCV)    When the Pharisees saw Jesus eating with sinners, they had a fit.  “What kind of example is this?”  Jesus shot back, “Who needs a doctor: People who are healthy or People who are sick?  Go figure out why the Bible teaches: ‘God wants kindness more than religious ceremonies and animal sacrifices.’ 

Jesus didn’t spend time with sinners to tell them how great sin is.  Instead Jesus concentrated on giving people compassion – showing them they could be forgiven and come back to a holy life.

Jewish religious leaders thought that faith was all about memorizing laws and keeping yourself out of trouble.  Jesus taught that real faith is about God giving us the strength and courage that we need to love and care for other people.  One of Jesus’ most powerful lessons on the meaning of real faith – and the Compassion that God wants to build in our lives – came in a show down with a Jewish Religious scholar.

The scholar knew all of the laws.  Jesus – said, Yes – you are very smart.  Your IQ is off the charts.  So tell Me how to apply the Law to our daily lives.  The Law says – Love God and love your neighbor.  The scholar tries to avoid the responsibility of actually having to put his faith into action by looking for a loophole.  OK – so who is my neighbor.  Jesus wants to open his eyes and our eyes to focusing on Compassion.  So Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan – and Jesus closes by asking Who was the neighbor?  The one who showed compassion.

Luke 10:25-29 (NLT/MSG)    One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say?”  The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God…  And you must love your neighbor…’”   Jesus said to him, “Your answer is right!  Do this and you will live!”  The man was looking for a loophole, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

We all still wrestle with that Question.  Who is my neighbor?  It’s hard, because we know that we can’t do it all.  The good news is that God doesn’t expect us to solve every problem in Canandaigua.  Not even every problem on your block.  But God does expect us to take action when we come across problems that we can do something about to help make life better for another person.

We all have different financial means.  Different abilities.  God doesn’t ask us to take on problems that are too big for us.  But God does challenge us to get involved and help where we can.  Penny and I know that we can’t educate all of the children in Rwanda.  But we don’t throw up our hands and do nothing.  Instead, made a commitment to help educate one child through Compassion International.  Penny and I can’t feed all of the hungry people in Canandaigua – but we can contribute to CCIA and the Food Pantry.  God doesn’t ask any of us to do it all.  And God doesn’t let us off the hook by doing nothing.  Compassion is doing what you can do – instead of worrying about what you can’t do.

Jesus reminds us that the purpose of God’s Law – is to empower us to take action to help other people.  It’s not enough to know the Law – the Priest and the Levite knew the Law – but they didn’t take action.  The only way to fulfill God’s law – is through compassion – putting love into action.  Right from the very beginning – God said the purpose of the Law is to inspire people to choose life.

Jesus shows us that the purpose of the Law is to help us see people who are hurting – and give them a helping hand instead of walking by and saying That really is bad – someone really should do something about it.

God reminds all of us – you are a someone.  You can’t solve all of this world’s problems – but you can give a helping hand and make a difference.

There is only one way to fulfill God’s Law.  It’s not by condemning what’s wrong with other people.  And it’s not be memorizing formulas.  The only way to fulfill God’s Law – is by putting it into action to help others.

The Good News of the Bible – is that we don’t have to do all of the work of Compassion by ourselves.  God wants to show us how to make Compassion a team effort – in the new faith community. 

The New Faith Community

Jesus started a revolution – that God wants the Church to keep spreading to the whole world.  God wants to help the church to be His team in showing people how to follow Jesus.  So how do we do it?  How do we help each other to live more and more the way that Jesus wants us to live?  The answer is by challenging each other to keep growing in Compassion.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT/MSG)    Don’t break God’s heart by the way you live.  …Get rid of all bitterness and anger…  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

God wants to help you and me in the church – to show the world how to build a family based on love – instead of power.  It doesn’t matter what color your skin is.  It doesn’t matter if you have a PhD or a GED.  Your true value is not determined by the size of your bank account.  

Colossians 3:11-12 (TLB)    In our new life in Christ, a person’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant.  The key to entering God’s Kingdom — is Jesus.  And Jesus is equally available to everyone. God has chosen you and made you His holy people.  God loves you.  So always do these things: Show mercy to others, be kind, humble, gentle, and patient.

It has been a huge blessing for our church to make new friends with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Iglesia Emmanuel.  People from Puerto Rico, Caribbean.  Panama.  Our new friends at Iglesia Emmanuel help us to open our eyes – and see how much God loves all people.

This morning as you think and pray about what you believe regarding Compassion – God wants to make sure that you know that His biggest concern is to help you to keep growing in a faith that works!

God’s  BIGGEST  Concern —  Faith that  WORKS!

God teaches us that – It’s good to pray.  It’s good to study the Bible.  But it’s not enough just to pray and study the Bible.  It is essential to remember the reason that we pray and the reason that we study the Bible – is to prepare us to put our faith to work helping other people experience God’s love.

James 2:17 (NLT)    So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough.  Unless faith produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

As we go through life – we never forget that one day we are going to die and we will then stand before God to have our lives examined.  Everybody wants to know what is going to be on that final exam – so we’ll be sure to pass.  Jesus shows us that it’s an open book test.  When you stand before God – He’s going to focus on where did you put your faith to work?  Where did you show compassion?  Who were the people you reached out to give a helping hand to?

Matthew 25:31-44 (NLT)    When Jesus returns, He will separate people and judge them.  He will say to those on His right… ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you…  For I was hungry, and you fed Me.  I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave Me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You in need?’”  “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’”

Compassion is what makes life worth living.  Our goal is not just to survive for one more day.  Our real goal is compassion.  We all want to know that God loves me – and to grow in sharing God’s love with others.

God wants the world to know that He is Compassionate.  God forgives our sins.  God is patient with us.  God pours His compassion into our lives through Jesus – to empower us to join with God in sharing the gift of compassion with others.

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