A Compelling Compassion

We should not share our faith with others out of obligation, duty, or guilt, but out of a God-given burden for their lives.

Compassion motivated Jesus.

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest'” (Matthew 9:36–38).

Everywhere Jesus went, He was surrounded by people. Many wanted something from Him: a healing, a resurrection, or a deliverance. But Jesus saw their deepest need. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd, going astray, and He had compassion.

  • When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He could have lectured her on the evils of immorality. Instead, He looked beyond her sin and saw her spiritual emptiness, and appealed to her longing for God (John 4:7–30).
  • When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, He could have rebuked him for his greed and theft. But Jesus said that He had come “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And separating the sin from the sinner, He met with this short, despised tax collector and led him to a saving knowledge of Christ (Luke 19:1–10).
  • When Jesus saw Mary and her friends weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus, “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). While He knew that He would bring Lazarus back to life, He was still seized with grief when He saw the pain that death brought upon this loving family.
  • When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, His concern was not for Himself, but for His disciples. He told the soldiers, “If you seek me, let these men go” (John 18:8).
  • Even while on the cross, Jesus showed concern for the welfare of His mother, telling John to take care of her (John 19:26–27), and He prayed for the forgiveness of His persecutors (Luke 23:34).

Obviously, Jesus cares about people. Likewise, if we are going to be used of God in any capacity to win others to Him, we too must care.

Compassion moved Paul.

“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race” (Romans 9:2–3).

Paul cared for his kinsmen so much that he was willing to go to Hell (if necessary) so that others could go to Heaven. No wonder he had such a powerful and effective ministry!

Evangelism is the responsibility of every Christian.

Evangelism is not just for preachers and evangelists. In the Old Testament, Nehemiah was not a priest or prophet, but he was genuinely touched with the needs of the lost. While in Babylonian captivity and serving as the king’s cupbearer, he learns that the walls of Jerusalem lie in ruins. Realizing that the walls were but a symbol of a people who once stood with God, separated from the pagan nations around them, Nehemiah wept. Then, he realized that as a layman, he could make a difference by working to rebuild the walls. Then he prayed for God to guide and help him in this endeavor. And God did, providing him with fellow laborers for the project.

God wants you to be a laborer in the harvest!

  • The spectators are many
  • The complainers are many
  • The compromisers are many
  • The fair weather followers are many
  • But the laborers are few

If you ask the Lord to stir your heart and to give you a burden for those who are like sheep without a shepherd, you will not be disappointed. He may call you to cross the sea as a missionary—or perhaps just cross the street! So the next time you pray for God to send out laborers in the harvest, don’t forget to include yourself in that prayer.

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