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Christ Loves

 

Suffering and Compassion
Keep an Open Heart

 

MT 13:15 For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.'

When we walk down the street, we can occasionally find ourselves walking by some poor homeless person with his or her hand drawn out, asking for help.

What do we often do? We look away. It is an ugly site.

The site may invoke compassion in our hearts. But rather than act on this compassion, we choose to smother it and instead scurry on our ways towards our important destination. After all, we have things to do. We just finished another hard day slaving at work. Not like this person. We donít have time. Maybe some other time. If the person had a shower and tried harder, maybe they could get a job.

The excuses start flying and our hearts inch further towards greater callousness.

LK 3:7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? [8] Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. [9] The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

LK 3:10 "What should we do then?" the crowd asked.

LK 3:11 John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

In our worry over our little lives, it is easy to forget about the plight of those who are worse off than us. We are too concerned with our own aims, goals and afflictions that we leave no room in our hearts to care about others.

But by closing our hearts in this way, we are making ourselves numb to the glory of the Holy Spirit we inherited from Jesus. The love and grace that initially drew us to a dedication towards Jesus start to seem like distant concepts and gibberish; and we drift from God.

REV 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. [5] Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

But as the Jews would often drift from God and God eventually brought them back by his own hand, we too are brought back by God into his family.

DT 29:22 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it. [24] All the nations will ask: "Why has the LORD done this to this land?

DT 29:25 And the answer will be: "It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt.

DT 30:1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, [2] and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, [3] then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. [6] The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

[10] Now choose life, so that you and your children may live [20] and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

So it is the same in the new testament. We start to wander away from the life that God, through Jesus, offered us. We start to forget about the beautiful grace and love we first felt when we were close to Jesus and start to become increasingly consumed in our own worries. As Jesus explained about the farmer sowing the seeds, the worries in our lives are like thorns which strangle the word of God in our hearts. Or the pride in our hearts, like Satan swooping down and stealing the word, the seed lying along the path.

So it is natural for us to fall away from God. It is our natural instinct to worry about our own problems for, after all, we are only creatures of survival, born in houses of flesh but now offered freedom from this through the spirit.

Therefore, God is always at work in our hearts. God, the farmer sowing the seed, is at work preparing the soil in our hearts so that it can produce a good crop. With the ox before him, God tills the soil in our hearts, overturning the old with the new, uprooting old roots, exposing the soft parts of our hearts, so that his word can take root and have effect in our lives.

RO 8:20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

2CO 1:8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. [9] Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Therefore, when you pray, you should pray to God to help you keep a clean heart. Not like the prayer sung by Janis Joplin, "Oh Lord, wonít you buy me a Mercedes Benz," but the prayer that comes out of a sincere heart that desires to be closer to God. God is our potter, and for him to form out of us the mastery of his vision and art, he may occasionally have to break us down, like dry unformed clay in the strength of his hand, crushed (our pride) to a powder only to be added with water, which is his love and compassion, so that we may become soft and wieldable. If we are not, soft and wieldable, then we are proud, joining the way of the others who choose to serve their own selfish aims. Not caring about their starving brother. Not expressing compassion for those who are worse off than they (for we will always find such people worse off than us) but choosing instead to harden their hearts and as such lose the life which we first felt when we discovered Jesus or which we feel the most after times of suffering.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, I ask that you open your hearts to God, wield yourselves to his will, and pray that his good work may break the pride that Satan tries to build up in us. Pray that God may break the hard and callous clay in our hearts, if necessary through suffering, so that we may feel the full joy of the new life, for it is the heart, after all, which experiences any joy.

 

 


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