“And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). Jesus is awesome! When He beholds people He is moved with compassion. Compassion is a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). This goes beyond just sympathy or empathy, because it includes the desire to help those in trouble. This is how Jesus lived His life. This was the underlying motivation for all that He did while He was here. He knew His own value and consequently the value of every person around Him. He truly loved people.
There was a time when Jesus and His disciples were tired from their labor. “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:31-34).
This is amazing! Jesus and His disciples were exhausted, and He tried to get away for a while, because they didn’t even have time to eat. When they arrived at the place where they were planning to rest, there was a crowd gathered. Instead of getting frustrated, Jesus was moved with compassion and taught them many things. He took time for them because He cared for them above His own needs.
Later, the Bible says, “Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.” (Matthew 15:32). Next, Jesus broke seven loaves and a few fish which miraculously became enough to feed 4,000 people. Jesus didn’t just sit by and secretly have pity on people. Instead, He was moved to do something about the hurt around Him. Compassion is not passive, but active.
Two blind men were being mistreated by the multitude, “And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.” (Matthew 20:32-34).
“And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” (Mark 1:40, 41).
“Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.” (Luke 7:12-15).
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?… Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21).
A common thread through Jesus’ ministry is that He genuinely loved people. His love was so strong that it motivated Him to help those around Him.
Jesus has not changed. He is still just as compassionate today as He was 2,000 years ago. He sees you now. He knows what you are going through, and He has compassion for you. You may have done some terrible things. You may have made a wreck of your life. Take courage. Jesus loves you and wants to make things right for you. He promised, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
Jesus is not alone in His love for you. His Father loves you too. In fact, He is the one who sent His Son to rescue you from the corruption in this world. Jesus said, “For the Father himself loveth you” (John 16:27).
Jesus told the story of a prodigal son who had wasted all his money on a wild and reckless lifestyle. Finally he realized his mistake, and decided to return to his father, hoping he would be accepted as a servant. “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20). This father knew his son had messed up his life, but he didn’t stop caring for him. The father in this story represents our heavenly Father who loves us with all His heart. He looks at you now with love and compassion, and His arms are outstretched, eager to receive you home.
Reflecting His Love
Love awakens love! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16, 17). God’s love motivated Him to give everything for us (Romans 8:32). As we behold that love, we are changed into the same image by His Spirit that dwells in us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 5:5). This love becomes the motivation for how we treat those around us.
When Jesus was teaching the need to love others He explained, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” (Luke 10:30-34).
Notice the difference between these three men who noticed a man in trouble. The priest and Levite ignored the need, too worried about themselves to care for someone in need. The Samaritan came and risked his own life to help him. Notice that the real difference was not what they did, but how they felt about the man in trouble. The priest and Levite did not care enough about the man to help. The Samaritan “had compassion,” so he did something. Compassion was the underlying motivation for what he did. The lack of compassion was the underlying motivation for what the other two did. The actions of the Samaritan were a side effect of his heartfelt compassion for the man. The real difference between these men was not what they did, but the condition of their hearts.
If you want to act like the Good Samaritan, then you need the love of God in your heart. It is not good enough to go around doing good for others if God’s selfless love is not what is motivating you to do it. The Bible says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [love], it profiteth me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). It is a great aspiration to live like Jesus and the good Samaritan, but it will be a waste of time attempting to live that way without God’s love in your heart. In fact, it will make you a miserable person, and that misery will rub off on those around you. What you really need is to have God living in your heart so that His love will spring forth from the inside blessing everyone around you. So if you want to do great things for the Lord, then focus all your energy and attention on having Him living in your heart, then blessing others will come naturally.
John wrote, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:17, 18). Here we see that the love of God abiding in the heart is what motivates godly actions. The unselfish desire to do good for others is a result of having the love of God in our hearts. The good works are not what is good, but an identifier of the good that is within.
What We Need
Jesus commented on the condition of some of the Jewish leaders when He said, “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you” (John 5:42). Friends, maybe this could be said of you or me. If so, then what do we need? We need God’s love infused into our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:10, 11).
Please remember that godliness stems from God dwelling within our hearts. Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35). Jesus did not grudgingly do the amazing things He did. No! It was His delight to do the will of God (Psalm 40:8). He loved acting the way He did because His heart was good and right with God. He is full of love for everyone, so as a result, He demonstrated it by the way He lived.
If you see a man begging on the street, and you grudgingly go over to help him because you think you have to, because that is what Christians do, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. You have the cart before the horse. Jesus didn’t go help people because He thought He had to do it. He did what He did because He loved the people He was helping. Love was pouring out of every fiber of His being, because that is who He is. He was moved with compassion whenever He saw a need. If you are moved from a sense of duty rather than compassion, then there is something wrong. I am not saying that you should stop doing good things, but check your motives. If you need more of the love of God in you, then focus on that. Get that straight, and other things in your life will fall into place.
John was the Bible writer who seemed most in touch with the love of God. This was his theme throughout all of his writing. He wrote, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1 John 3:14). The sign that we have moved into eternal life is when we genuinely love others. Sometimes we focus on doctrines, thinking they are what ensure us eternal life. No! they are designed to point us to Jesus so we can have life. Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39, 40).
Peter wrote, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22). Unfeigned love is love that is not fake or pretend. When you say, “I love you,” it is sincere and heartfelt. This love is to be fervent and intense from a pure heart. This is what we must have! We cannot generate love ourselves, so if it is missing we must ask God to put it there.
From the Heart
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). This is a wonderful promise. Yet, the opposite is also true. Those who are not pure in heart will not see God. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). God desires for all of us to allow Him to put in us a clean and pure heart.
The Bible says, “Now the end [goal, purpose] of the commandment is charity [love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5). This is the goal of the messages in the Bible, that you have love flowing from a pure heart. This is how Christ lived His life, and it is how true Christians are to live, because Jesus is living in our hearts (Galatians 2:20).
Paul prayed “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19). The root, the foundation, of all of our actions must be love.
Let us not be as the hypocrites, of whom Jesus said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). A person can look like a very good Christian on the outside, but inwardly be full of evil thoughts coming from a corrupt heart (Matthew 15:18-20; 23:25, 26). Maybe this is how you have been living your life. If so, don’t despair, there is hope for you. God sent His Son not only to die for you, but to live in you. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). This is an amazing gift available to all who will accept Him.
The true Christian life is a result of Christ living in you. He gives you a deep, heartfelt appreciation of God’s love for you so you can see your own value (Romans 5:5). This love awakens in you a love for those around you (1 John 4:7-12). If God loves you so much, then He certainly loves others. This true love motivates your thoughts and actions toward others, and is demonstrated by the way you treat people. The things you do for others are a result of the love of God in your heart. Doing good is not to earn your way to heaven, but a natural result of Christ living in your heart. Many people do good to others without the love of God in their hearts, but those actions are forced out of selfishness instead of springing from true love.
Doing good things will never earn you a place in heaven, nor will they make up for the sins you have done in the past. True goodness only springs from God abiding in your heart, and unless that is a reality, you do not have what it takes to go to heaven. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Having what it takes to go to heaven can happen in an instant when you invite Jesus into your heart. There is no set amount of good works you have to do to be purged from your sins. You just have to accept Jesus into your heart to live there, and that can be done right now. A proud heart seeks to earn salvation, but the righteousness of Jesus is both our title and our fitness for heaven. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). The thief on the cross who accepted Jesus on the day of his death, proved that you don’t have to heap up a load of good works to outweigh your bad ones. No! What you need is Jesus Christ in your heart; that is all that matters. Of course this will be demonstrated by good works, but those works do nothing to make you more holy, they are just a result of the holiness you have already living in you.
It is likely that as you examine yourself, you will find you need a deeper experience, a greater love for others springing from a pure heart. Fortunately, this is exactly what God has promised to give you. He said, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26, 27).
When you ask God to give you a new heart and invite Jesus to live in your heart, you will not feel anything happening, but believe that you have a new heart, because God promised. Don’t stop believing! After a few days you will notice that there has been a change. You will start thinking and feeling differently. You will start reacting to situations differently. The things you once loved will not be pleasing to you, and things you once hated you will delight in. God gives you a new set of likes and dislikes. This is a sure sign that Christ is working in your life. He is living in you now. Don’t stop believing that Christ is in you, for Christ dwells in your heart by faith (Ephesians 3:17).
“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). May God’s love inspire and motivate you in all you do.