Pearls of Grace - December 28

December 28

Seeing Through the Eyes of Compassion

"And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them manythings."

Mark 6:34

Compassion was the mark of Jesus as He ministered through villages and homes, upon the hillsides, from the shores of the sea, along the roadsides, and in the religious meeting places of the cities. His compassion was evident and it was boundless. It recognized no social class or religious sect, it sought out one select group alone - the sheep who had no shepherd. Jesus, seeking a secluded place for He and His disciples to rest, came upon the shores only to find a crowd waiting for Him. Jesus, no doubt, was tired, and needing to refuel spiritually and physically from ministering to so many, was now met by a sea of no ordinary group of people. These were the sick and destitute, the lowly and needy. Jesus did not recognize His own needs but rather that of the people before Him. He began to teach them about the Father and about Himself. Compassion lays itself aside in order to minister to the need that is before it. Compassion will never turn away in order to meet its own needs first. It is never self-seeking and it is always opportune.

The secret of Jesus’ compassion is found in His ability to see beyond the outward appearance of the physical needs of the people to their spiritual needs. He saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd. Compassion is found when we look with the eyes of Jesus; when we see as He saw. Behind every physical and emotional need is the spiritual need for a Savior, or as Jesus put it, the need for a shepherd. If the sheep have the Good Shepherd, then every other need they have will be met by Him. This is the heartbeat of Godly compassion. Compassion is focused on the foundational need found within every soul, the need for Jesus. When this is our focus, racial, economic, social, religious and cultural boundaries are no longer an obstacle or hindrance for compassion to break through.

There is a homeless shelter a block down from where I live, and every morning around 7:45 or so I see a trail of lonely, sick, and hurting people pass by on the sidewalk carrying their life’s possessions over their shoulder in a garbage bag or backpack. They are made to leave the shelter early every morning and they cannot return until the evening. There are many who are sick physically and mentally. Some are crippled and weak, having been sapped of all joy from the trials and failures of life. Hopelessness and despair can be found in the eyes of every one of them. Why? Because they are like sheep without a shepherd. On this same street, the corner that I live on, there are prostitutes selling their bodies in order to pay for their next "fix or high", or to pay their rent, or even to buy food. They can be belligerent and provocative in their behavior, which makes it easy for passers to throw up a stony heart and keep on going. They are shown little or no compassion by most. They need a shepherd, beloved, just like all of us.

D.L. Moody said, "God has given me a lifeboat, and said…’Moody, save all you can." God intends not only to extend compassion to us but for us to extend compassion to others. How many times have you or I seen the homeless, the drunkard, the druggie, the prostitute, and refused to show compassion because we did not look beyond the outward appearance? May we seek to have eyes of compassion in order to give Jesus to the sheep that have no shepherd. Compassion is the mark of Jesus.

Make me a lifeboat.

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