Thursday, June 2, 2016

Luke 7:11-17 Motivated by Compassion, not Duty

KEY TEXT: Luke 7:12-16 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. ESV

KEY THOT: When Jesus saw that the dead man was the only son of a widow, he was moved with compassion and raised him up from the dead. Jesus often ministered to people because he had compassion on them, not because it was his duty:
  • Matt 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd
  • Matt 14:14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
  • Matt 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.”
  • Mark 1:41-42 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" 
  • Mark 6:34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Compassion must be the basic motivation for ministry, not duty. When we are motivated by a sense of duty, our ministry is often programmatic and cold. But when we see people as God sees them—“harassed and helpless, like sheep without shepherd”, we will often minister to people out of compassion for them rather than out of a mistaken sense of duty to God. Ministry that is motivated by duty will only go as far as duty calls--but no further. But ministry that is moved by compassion will go beyond the call of duty—often beyond the legal requirements of a “job description."

And indication that we are motivated by duty rather than compassion is the oft-used expression: "that's not my job!" Jesus never saw his ministry as his "job". His ministry was never defined by his job description as "Savior and Messiah". He saved, he healed, he cast out demons and he raised the dead, not because these were in his job description. He did it simply because he had compassion on the people who were lost. His job description (if any) is simply this: "ministry by compassion." 

If we want to be as effective as Jesus was in our ministry (whether it be pastoring, teaching, mentoring, witnessing or worship), we must be motivated by compassion rather than duty. Only compassion can touch the heart of God to work on our behalf: “Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, 'A great prophet has arisen among us!' and 'God has visited his people!'" (Luke 7:16).

Father God, may You help us see people like You see them—with the eye of compassion for them. May our ministry be motivated not by duty but by compassion. Amen.

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