When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. – Matthew 9:36
We need new eyes. It is possible to have grown so accustomed to our surroundings, that we miss the obvious. A few years ago, on the TV show “Deal or No Deal” there was an episode that really brought the truth of this point home. Deal or No Deal is a game show in which contestants can make more money by selecting the correct briefcases. The models hold up the selected briefcases and show the contestants what they have won or didn’t win. On one show…there was a contestant whose family had arranged for her sister to appear on the show as one of these models. During the show the contestant did not realize that her sister was on stage. She kept playing the game and had no idea. Finally, after some time, the host of the show decided to point out the model in hopes of the contestant realizing that it was her sister. After being shown the model and asked specifically if she noticed anything different about her…. she was still clueless. Suddenly it dawned on her…this was her sister! She hadn’t seen her in about a year.
Many of us are like this contestant. We are not looking for ways to reach out to people, and we miss the obvious God-given appointments that play out in front of us. In order to see things differently, we need to ask God to awaken us. We need to see people the way God does. God does not see people as prospects or as potential people which He could love. Jesus looked out over the crowds that had been following and listening to each and every word. He saw them as harassed and helpless. They needed Him, and He knew it. He could easily have dismissed them. He could have just let them wallow in the messes that they created by their own sin. He could have wished somebody else to minister to them. He didn’t. Matthew tells us that He was moved with compassion.
Compassion is a very interesting word. In the Greek the word is σπλαγχνίζομαι (splagchnizomai). The literal definition of this word is “to be moved in the bowels”. In the 1st century the bowels were considered to be the seat of the emotions. In our modern culture we use the word “heart”. I love my wife with all of my “heart”. Jesus, as He was looking on the crowds, was moved in His gut because He loved these people. Biblical compassion results in action. Jesus did not feel sorry for them and then forget about them the next day. Jesus was moved with compassion, and then He saved them. To feel sorry for somebody is not compassionate. To help them from our empathy is!
It is not enough to feel sorry for people. We must be moved to action to do something to make a difference. Who is it that comes across your mind today? For whom have you felt pity, but not real biblical compassion? Whether you are moved in your bowels or heart…do something about it today! Jesus did, and we serve in His strength!