All posts tagged compassion

Grace Dispensers

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The Pharisees try to trick Jesus with a woman caught in the act of adultery. They tried to discredit Christ by making Him side with the Law and appear to be uncaring, or breaking the Law of Moses and siding with the woman.

As usual, Jesus exceeded all expectations. (In baseball terms, He hit the ball out of the park.)

Take a look at the passage from the New Living Translation:

 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:1-11

When describing this scene, my pastor said, “The Pharisees threw this woman down with the Law, and Jesus raised her up with Grace.”

Sometimes I think of this woman as needing His grace. I mean–caught in the act? I’ve never been caught in the act. But if I believe all Scripture is inspired by God, then I have to believe that when Jesus spoke in Matthew 5 about being guilty for just thinking about it—in His eyes, well, I might have a problem. You might too. In fact, I’m pretty sure of it.

But the fact is, I tend to categorize people.

I look at them and have thoughts like, How could they make such bad choices? I would never have done that! Can’t they get their lives together?

I throw the Law down.

But then I realize that my life has been pretty good. My parents provided for me as a child, didn’t abuse me, and even liked each other. They encouraged me to attend school and assumed I would go to college.

Many don’t have that. And by the way, why was I born in the United States? I could have been born in Nigeria or Iraq.

It is all grace. All of it. All undeserved and unearned.

The God of the universe dispensed grace and forgiveness to this woman. He did the same with me. The Law threw me down and Jesus raised me up.

That is Amazing Grace.

Let’s be grace dispensers like our Lord.

How can you do that this week? Tell me about it.

 

Investing in Christmas, Day 13-Sorrowful Servant

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“Where shall I put the shoe-shine boy?” Sarah asks seriously.

“Next to the balloon guy.”

Setting up the 7 Christmas villages I own every year is a joy for me. But only if I have someone (like my daughter) helping me. (Actually, I help her. She is electrician, town engineer, and master builder.) I am talk-to-the-miniature-people-as-they-come-out-of-the-box specialist.

That’s the thing about Christmas. It’s fun if you have someone to be with. Family. Friends. Neighbors.

Christmas can be a real sad time for some. Sorrowful.

Sorrow is like a really bad stomache that doesn’t go away. It’s a cousin to grief–may be linked closely to compassion.

Today’s reading takes us to Isaiah 52:1-3:

“”Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot; and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

Jesus cried when His friend Lazarus died, even though Jesus knew He would resurrect his friend.

In Luke 19:41-44, Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. He knew the devestation she would face. His people, the Jews would be massacred and suffer horribly.

We’ve read about the Garden of Gethsamanee and Christ’s grief, yet His obedience.

On the cross, He cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus, the Messiah was aquainted with grief.

Some of you may be grieving. Hurting real bad. Maybe someone you love died this year. Or a few years ago, yet the hurt is still so raw you can hardly function.

Or maybe your life has changed. Someone you loved and trusted has left you.

I’m sad for you, friend.

But my compassion doesn’t match the Savior’s.

He is kind and compassionate.

Read this passage from Lamentations 3:19-24 with your eyes and heart:

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them,and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Listen to this hymn sung by Ascend the Hill:

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There is great hope my dear friend. Christ died to give us life. This world isn’t all there is.

Count on it.

How to invest in Christmas? How about those of us who aren’t grieving this year open up our hearts to those who are. Pray for them. Invite them to your house if that will help. Or maybe just put your arms around them when you see them and tell them you care.

Because Christ, the Man of Sorrows cares.

See you tomorrow.