Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

The lie of self-reliance

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

“I cannot give if I do not receive. In giving, I am also able to receive.”

In John 4, Jesus initiates a discussion with a Samaritan woman with “Give me a drink” even though he knows that the woman needs a drink from him more than he needs the drink he is requesting.

The Samaritan woman had to discover her own neediness and drink from the living waters before she could give a drink to others.

I have too often tried to help others with a drink when I myself have not allowed Jesus to fill me with His living water.

Many people in the world today are thirsty and hungry and yet they are not aware of their thirst. Activities, busyness and self-medication (alcohol, drugs, sports, etc) serve to mask the thirst that exists. People refuse to admit their restless desire for God and “repress the awareness of it” because they are “unable to bear the terrible craving for God that eats away at their hearts.” (Adrian van Kaam)

I need to “be attentive to that kind of thirst of Jesus in my fellow men that I can relieve best because of the person I am.”  I need not pretend or try to be someone that I am not. Do I fail to see people in need and do I lack compassion because I have been unable or unwilling to receive from Jesus. Unless I receive from Him, I have nothing to give.

Only in recent years have I paid attention to notice my own thirst. In doing so, I am much more aware of the thirst of others.

Attachments and affections  may prevent me from receiving His love. It is only when I give these attachments to Jesus that I am able to give my whole self to Him and receive His love. Van Kaam says, “To live a spiritual life is to excel in the art of receiving without fear or withholding.”

I am comforted that the Lord did not give up on the Samaritan woman and He has not given up on me. This is grace. In the same way, His grace enables me to persevere with those who initially reject, are hardened or even fearful of that which I am offering to give to them—new life in Jesus.

Van Kaam is helpful here. “The lie of self reliance never covers up the hollowness that gnaws at the core of our existence.” It requires the work of the grace of God to enable a person to see in their own blindness.

Transformed eyes

February 27, 2008 2 comments

Since I struggle with lust as much as any other man, I expected that Gary Thomas would mention Job 31:1 (I made a covenant with my eyes not look lustfully at a girl.”) in his chapter on “Eyes That See.” However, what I was not prepared for was his point that it is having transformed eyesight does not mean an avoidance of evil, it means looking on all people the way God sees them. God wants to start with our eyes and end up with compassion in our hearts. Thomas writes,

“It’s not enough to see someone and refrain from hating him. It’s not sufficient to abstain from lust, prejudice, or disdain. . . The gospel of transformation calls me to progress from not lusting to having eyes that honor, respect, and generate compassion. God wants to transform my eyes from being selfish possessors and consumers to being his servants of selfless love.” 62-63

Thomas writes about the covenant of the eyes in Job 31:1

“Make a covenant with God, offering your eyes to be his servants, to notice the discouraged, to have compassion on the poor and hungry, to see what God wants you to see through his eyes. What you once saw as beautiful you may now see as hideous; what you once loathed may now be awe-inspiringly gorgeous.” 69

I guess the problem with my eyes is worse than I thought it was and yet there is also more hope than I thought possible.

Staying focused when the pressure is on

March 1, 2007 Leave a comment

Mark 10:1 says, “Again crowds gathered to him, and again, as was his custom, he taught them.”

Thinking about “again.”  What pressure Jesus faced day after day.

While reading through Mark, I have observed that Jesus never seems to get upset about the press or the demand of the crowds.

  • A number of times, it seems the pressure comes when he is planning some time alone with His Father–a “personal retreat day”.
  • At times, he responds to the needs before him–he arrives in Capernaum in 2:1 after people had been coming to him from everywhere (1:45) and soon the whole town is at his house and he “preaches the word to them.” (2:2)
  • In 3:7, “Jesus went away with his disciples to the sea”, was this a “getting away” trip or a preaching trip? In any case, it becomes a mob pressing against him to get healing and deliverance, such that he has to have a boat ready for his departure if needed (3:9).
  • In 3:20, he goes home and there are so many people he is not able to eat. He graciously teaches and deals with the attacks of his enemies.
  • In 6:31, he takes the disciples away to a quiet place to “rest a while”. Before they get to this “remote place”, the crowds are already there. What does he do? He feels compassion on them (6:34), teaches them and later feeds the 5000. I am afraid that I would have been irritated and said something unpleasant to the crowds.
  • When he is on the mountain alone praying in the night (6:46), he sees the disciples struggling in a storm and goes to them on the water. How did he see them struggling in the middle of the storm? Or was the seeing, figurative language for “knowing” they were struggling. In any case, he appears to leave his prayer time to go rescue the disciples.
  • Later, he arrives in Tyre (7:24), where “he did not want anyone to know” BUT, “he was not able to escape notice” and ministers to a gentile woman. His dialogue with her is very interesting! Even though he clearly wanted some “down time”, he was gracious with the woman and delivered her daughter. (7:29)
  • After his transfiguration, he and his disciples are met with a crowd of angry and hostile people and yet he is able to focus on the problem at hand (disciples could not cast out a demon) and heals a boy. What strikes me in this section is found in verse 27 when Jesus gently takes the hand of the boy and raises him up. I would have been feeling anything but gentle at that point.
  • In Mark 10:1, the crowds gather and once again he teaches them and does with great spiritual wisdom. I am sure he shows love even when he gives a rebuke to those testing him.

Jesus manages to stay focused in the midst of the pressures he faces, caring for the needy, teaching, always having compassion and being gracious. And even when he is interrupted during his “retreat times”, he is able to cope!

I have a lot to learn!!!


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