The habit of compassion - Day Two

Tuesday 8 July

David Parker is the Lead Pastor of Desert Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Southern California.  From Monday 7 July to Friday 11 July he will lead the morning Bible teaching sessions at the New Wine Ireland Sligo Summer Conference.  Here we bring you summaries of each message!

We're wrestling with the truth that Jesus communicates to His followers that He wants to lead them in doing what He is doing - to seek and save that which is lost, leading them as sheep amongst wolves!  

In calling us to this kind of challenging, life-giving task, Jesus tells us that we must be both tough minded and tender-hearted - a challenge to live by deeply-rooted conviction.  We need to have an engagement with others that enables us to offer the resources of the Gospel of Jesus in a generous way. 

Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10 are, “You have freely received, therefore freely give.”

As wounded healers we are seeking to heal those around us.  Jesus did what He did out of compassion.  When God gets serious with us and asks, “What is it that you really want?” then we should tremble.

Solomon was given wisdom when he was presented with the terrible situation of two women fighting over a dead child and a living child.  The real mother had compassion on her child.

Compassion is the willingness to embrace loss. Throw the circle of your compassion wider. 

Exodus 33: 15 - 19 “ Moses said to Him, “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?  … now show me your glory!

God tells Moses… “I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion…”  God chooses to show compassion on His people.

Compassion is a choice - a free decision.  I choose to embrace loss on your behalf.  It is possible to expand our connection with what God is doing in our time and place.  It is possible to expand our engagement with our community.  It starts, like the blowing up of a balloon with the choice we make to have compassion.

I’m going to step off this religious road where I look at the beaten and broken beside the road and pass on by and I get off the road like the Good Samaritan and show compassion.

We have to grow in our ability to connect with the hurt and need around us.  If we disconnect, we become less human, less Christian.

When Ezekiel prophesied that we would have a new spirit, it foretells what God talks about in Romans about a new humanity.  Jesus came to recreate and transform and make us truly human in the way we were intended to be.

Compassion is something we choose and build into our character.

We are the recipients of enormous grace!  God has shown compassion to us.  As we understand our own history, our brokenness and need, we are free to have compassion on others.

Jesus had compassion on people because they were sheep without a shepherd.  Sometimes we are tempted to look at people who are suffering and thinking that they are just getting what they deserve.  If anyone had the right to think that way, it was Jesus but he doesn’t.  He has compassion on them.

  • In order to choose compassion we need to have an accurate connection with the truth of the past:  our past and other people’s past.
  • In order to choose compassion, we need to reject fear and judgement and allow our hearts to be soften by hope. How can I not have compassion because I have a history, a past?  The truth is that God had compassion on us and He calls us into a world where there are sheep without shepherds.
  • If compassion was the outstanding quality that characterised our churches, then amazing things will happen.  We need to embrace anybody because there is hope for the future because we decide to care.
  • We have to let our hearts be softened by the truth about love.  Whenever the Old Testament speaks about God’s compassion it almost always speaks about His love.  These two are bound together.  Choose compassion and love will follow.

When you consistently choose compassion in your life and you will form a habit of compassion.  Show me a person who is compassionate across the spectrum, then that is a person who has learnt how to love.