HEADLINE NEWS! Jesus Feeds 4,000 People!
Yes, it’s true! In Matthew 15:32 and Mark 8:2-3, we read this amazing story. By His actions, Jesus said to be compassionate to others, specifically regarding their physical needs. In Matthew 15:32, Jesus said “I have compassion for these people…I do not want to send them away hungry…” Isn’t it beautiful that Jesus, the Bread of Life, was equally concerned for the people’s physical hunger as He was for their spiritual hunger? As our Teacher (see Matthew 23:10), Jesus commanded us to follow his example (see John 13:13-15). As a disciple, I am called to be compassionate to the physical needs of others.
Compassion for Other Christians
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells a story about the Son of God sitting on his throne and judging all people. He says that the righteous will be so because they fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, invited in strangers, clothed those who needed clothes, looked after the sick, and visited those in prison. Does this apply to just anyone? In verse 40, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”. Who is Jesus’ brother? In Mark 3:35, Jesus said: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother”. Jesus said that how we treat other Christians in need is how God will evaluate how we loved others.
Compassion for Non-Christians
What about non-Christians? Jesus said that the 2nd greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (mentioned in all 4 gospels: Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-28, John 13:34-35). In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus makes it clear that my neighbor is my fellow man; this means anyone, and everyone (Luke 10:25-37) .
Jesus said we are to be men and women of compassion who care for the physical needs of others. For example, you can regularly give to a mission group that feeds the hungry in Africa. You can donate money to an organization that drills water wells there. You could invite a new brother or sister in Christ over to your house for lunch, or maybe out for a cup of coffee. You can donate gently used clothes to your local mission or its second hand store. You can care for a brother or sister in Christ who is sick, or visit them in the hospital. You could visit or keep in contact with someone in prison, to give them encouragement. We are not to tire of doing these things (2 Thessalonians 3:13) After we have done them, Jesus said we have only done our duty (Luke 17:7-10).
Daily Prayer for a Compassionate Heart
The heart is God’s arena. Only He is able to truly change a person, from the inside out, by the power of His Holy Spirit, and so I pray:
Lord, change my heart to be a heart of compassion for my brothers and sisters in Christ, and for my neighbor. There are SO MANY needs in our world; so many needy, hurting, lonely people. My selfishness makes me feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of it; my pride tempts me to do nothing because it barely scratches the surface. Forgive me, Lord. Give me ears to hear what YOU are calling ME to do in the arena of compassion. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, prompting me to recognize opportunities to be compassionate and guiding me into those You want me to act on. May small acts of compassion become part of who I am and how I live. I am willing to be changed. You, my all powerful God, are able to change me. In faith, I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.