Read chapter 1 "A Passion For Compassion" first
"â€¦and none of the condemned things are to be found in your hands. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors- 18because you obey the LORD your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes." (Deuteronomy 13:17:18 NIV)
As we begin today Moses is giving final instructions to the children of Israel as they are about to attack Jericho. The city has been dedicated to God and everything in declared holy for the Lord. Thus everything was to be destroyed and nothing to be kept for themselves. For forty years they have wandered in the wilderness. In that time they have seen many signs and miracles by God as he tries to show them his love and concern for them. However they persist in ignoring God, going after false gods and basically insist on doing their own thing whether God likes it or not. However God doesn't give up on them and Moses is telling the people that if they will obey God then God will have compassion on them. So what does this mean?
This time the word compassion refers to love, to showing compassion and love as well as to have, show, find or obtain mercy as well as having pity on someone. It is to be Ruhamah. Ruhamah is a Jewish female name meaning to love deeply or have mercy. The children of Israel and later the nation of Israel are forever forgetting what God has done in the past for them. If he hasn't done something special for them in the last five minutes they tend to think God has abandoned them and no longer loves them. They then begin to wander and chase after other things which are worthless and garbage compared to what God has for them. Yet in spite of this God continues to woo them back, forgive them, bless them in spite of their disrespect, disregard for and their total rebellion seemingly to anything godly. Even when God does have to punish them as we see in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah God is still calling them and telling them that when they finally get the message, learn from their mistakes, repent and turn back to God, God will forgive and have compassion on them. Repent is a military term meaning to do an about face Before we were moving away from God to pursue our own desires. Now we have done an about face and are moving towards God..Where before we could care less about pleasing God now its all we want to do and our whole reason for living.
Nothing betters show us compassion of God I believe than the sending of his son to die for us. In Romans 5:8 Paul says God shows his love for us by sending his son to die for us even while we were still in our sins. At the time we were lost, unable to save or rescue ourselves, unable to do enough good works to begin to help ourselves let us alone approach God. God however loved us and had compassion on us. We deserved to be eternally separated from God in the darkest recesses of hell without any hope. However God can't allow that to happen he loves us to much to leave us to our own devices and give us what we deserve. Therefore God comes up with an alternate plan sending his son Jesus to die for us. Now because of that atoning sacrifice all we need to do is accept it then through the power of Christ walk in love as he taught us.
In today's world it seems to be the rage to hold on to grudges, hate, violence, fear and suspicions. We are told we need to build walls to keep out undesirables, to kick out certain peoples because they are different from us and also to ban then from entering our country, Orthodox don't talk to Catholics because a few hundred years ago a group of "Catholics" attacked their capital Constantinople and sacked the city destroying their churches and raping their women while also killing their children and men. They have never forgotten nor forgiven. Likewise Muslims hate Christians because during the crusades when they took Jerusalem they went on a rampage destroying mosques and raping their women too. Blacks hate whites because of slavery and how they have been treated over the years. Equally Native Americans are upset and resentful of how they were treated, their lands stolen from them, genocide committed against them to where today they are few in number and in many cases are restricted to reservations which are but a tiny fraction of what they once possessed. The list go on with women, LGBT, and all who have had to face hate, persecution, discrimination to be who they are, love who they want, dream their dream and pursue the American Dream. These are legitimate issues and need to be addressed and that compassion calls us to do
Before moving on I would like to ask what if God treated us as we treat others. What if God had to think about it for awhile before he could decide to forgive us. What if God told us I can forgive you someday just not today? Maybe God might say I'll forgive you but first I really want to see you suffer for what you did. Perhaps God might say I'll only forgive you if you can show and really convince me you are truly sorry and won't do it again. What if God said let me watch you for awhile and see if you are going to be a good little boy ot girl from now on and if you are I'll forgive you then, Where would we be? I suspect for many of us in a whole lot of trouble. For I am sure many of us have had thoughts like or similar to what I just described. Yet on Sunday mornings when we say the Lord's Prayer we say the words "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". Did you catch that? We are asking God to forgive us in the same way we forgive others. How well do we fare? Where does it leave us?
It leaves us in need of God's compassion. If God actually did any of the scenarios I invented above none of us could stand or make it. Compassion can't hold unto grudges, hate or fear. It cannot build walls to separate us nor can it support it. Neither can it be for discrimination or excluding whole masses of people because they are different from us. Compassion embraces all without exception. It offer forgiveness, pardon, unconditional love to all who will take it just as God does. God doesn't ask us to clean ourselves up before we can come and receive mercy. God simply says come as you are in all your rags, yuckies, messes, screwed up as you may be, its okay I want you come. Compassion acts in the same way.
Thus in this case a passion for compassion leads us to take the love God out to all we meet. It is to bring peace to them and help reconcile them back to God. This we can't do by judging and trying to figure out who the true Christians are or who is in and who is out. That is God's business not ours. Our business then is to take the love of God, his forgiveness, compassion and present it to everyone we encounter and welcoming all who respond positively and leaving the results up to God. All God is asking us to do is try and leave the rest to him whether its thirty fold, fifty fold or a hundred fold is God's business. Our call is to be faithful and act like God with compassion. The only one in the parables Jesus condemns is the one who sat on what he had and didn't try to do anything with it. May we never be like him but be always ready to use what we have, be risk takers for God knowing we can never out give God and he will abundantly bless all we give and do for him beyond our wildest dreams.
Today then are we ready to take our talents we have and use them for God's glory? Are we willing to take our passion for compassion to other by being the hands and feet of Jesus as well as his mouth whose message of love, compassion and forgiveness Jesus can speak forth through us to others so they can be healed, restored, cleansed, and put on their journey to God so that with us they may spend eternity with Jesus and all the other saints (believers). As I said before we don't have to wait for the second coming of Jesus as he is already here. All we have to do is accept him. We can take our world and change it. We have the power that was given us at Pentecost to be witnesses and martyrs for Christ unto the entire world. So will we take hold of that power and change our world with it? God is not asking us to solve all the world's problems. However God is asking is to do what we can.The question is how will we respond? I say let's light the fire, launch the movement that will rock our world and help usher in Gods kingdom here on earth. That is what I believe our passion for compassion is calling us to. Come join me if you agree. This presents another way to show compassion but there are still others. Forward as we move on.