The Ministry of Compassion
If there is a poor man among your brothers …give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. (Deuteronomy 15:7, 10)
When Moses encountered God on Mount Sinai, having asked to see what He was really like, the first words he heard were: "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God … " (Exodus 34:6). It is surely not without significance that the first thing God wants us to know about Him is that He is compassionate. It should not surprise us therefore to find, in both Old and New Testaments, God calling upon His people to be compassionate too – and promising a blessing on those who are.
One church that showed particular compassion was the church at Antioch. Alerted to an impending famine through prophecy, "the disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea" (Acts 11:29). Note that this was something that was not just done by the church leaders; it was the whole church – "the disciples" – that were moved by the plight of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Compassionate ministry is a hallmark of all true biblical faith, for compassion is a hallmark of God Himself. So, when Paul went to Jerusalem for discussions with Peter, James and John, they agreed that he should go to the Gentiles, but underlined the need to "remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do" (Galatians 2:10).
And here is the amazing thing: When we make sacrifices in order to be compassionate to others, God Himself is compassionate to us. Time and time again, we as writers have seen that God has more than repaid us for any kindness we may have extended to others - though, of course, that should not be the reason for doing so! God wants us to be compassionate as a reflection of His heart, not as a way of "putting his arm up his back" to bless us!
Today, look to be compassionate as God Himself is compassionate – for He promises to then be compassionate to you too.
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses. (Proverbs 28:27)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont