Compassion: A verse I read this week…

good samaritan

I’m going through Matthew in my devotions right now, and I am really enjoying just watching Jesus’ life unfold on the pages. God speaks to me a lot through my daily devotions (and He’ll speak to you to – get your Bible out and start reading it daily… eventually you’ll start hearing Him!). Here’s a verse I read earlier this week:

“…but go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice.’
for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
– Jesus, Matthew 9:13

Now, is that cool or what? Here’s the situation: Jesus is having just a normal day, ministering to people, calling them to repentance, etc. He asks one guy, not just to repent, but to begin following him. That man was Matthew. Matthew wasn’t just any ol’ Joe off of the street – he was a tax collector. I’m sure we all understand not liking taxes, but, for the Jews of that day, tax was a symbol of Roman aggression, repression, and rule. In other words, though Matthew may even have been well known, nobody would’ve liked him except his other tax collector friends.

Jesus called that man to follow him.

“…and he got up and followed Him. Then it happened that as Jesus
was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and
sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.”
Matthew 9:9b-10

When Matthew got saved and started following Jesus, he invited Jesus and His disciples to come over for dinner. Naturally, Matthew’s friends came over, too, like they usually did. This really upset the Pharisees. Jesus was a rabbi. Rabbis aren’t supposed to eat with tax collectors. However, instead of dealing with the issue biblically and going directly to Jesus (apparently they hadn’t read Matthew 18), they ask His disciples what was going on.

“…they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax
collectors and sinners?”
Matthew 9:11b

Jesus’ answer to them is so appropriate, so amazing… His words ring true to this day in a way that we as “church people” need to hear them more than ever. He tells them, “…It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Ye-ah! You tell ’em, Jesus!… Wait, that applies to me, too! How often have I lacked compassion for the people around me? How often have I not wanted to sit next to a person just because they were new in church? Jesus makes an excellent point – the church is not for churchy people! The church is not a place for people to build their own “religious culture” around and not let anyone else in! The church is a place for people who have offended God to come and find that He loves them, wants to forgive them, and will give them the power to stop doing those things that offend Him so badly!

Whew… *breathing heavily*

My rant is over. 😀

This verse has really caused me to pause and think, “Do I show enough compassion? Do I even understand what that word really, really means?”

I don’t think compassion is just about giving “less than $1 a day” to some charity so that orphans on the other side of the world can eat and get a good education. Do not get me wrong – we should do that.  It’s just that I think we sometimes satisfy our consciences with those things thinking “my job is done with compassion – I wrote a check.” Yes, God calls us to love Him with our money, but that is because He wants us to love Him with our whole selves.

Thanks for reading.

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