Daily Lent Devotional #35 (4/12/2011)

Today’s Topic:  “Honest Compassion”

Today’s Scripture:  Mark 10: 35-38, 41-45

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher”, they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

   36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

   38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said…

 41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

There are things that we say and do (which when we step back and look at them objectively and from the perspective of others) that we know are ridiculous and totally out-of-place.  However, we can become so self-focused that the way we see things becomes reality for us.  This was the situation with the Apostles James and John.  Since they were among the first to follow Jesus and were among his closest confidantes; their place in his heavenly kingdom should be secure.  They began angling for positions of honor in Heaven.  It wasn’t enough for them that all twelve of the Apostles were going to be honored.  James and John wanted special treatment.  Jesus calls them out on this inappropriate behavior, which had driven a wedge in their relationships with the others.

When doing good deeds or following God’s Plan, we are not called to be competitive with other believers.  It would be flat-out ridiculous for a Christian in one church to have feelings of envy or jealousy if another local church was experiencing faster growth than their church.  We’re all on the same team.  Similarly, we are not to show favoritism in regards to whom we demonstrate our acts of love and compassion.  If pride and competition enter the picture, our heart of compassion withers.

Author Henri Nouwen wrote an entire book on the topic of compassion; with a few of his thoughts on it being posted below.  May they encourage you to cultivate a life of honest and pure compassion in your daily life.

Also, posted in my Vodpod on this page is a video for the song “Love Like You” (by Jonny Diaz).  It’s a catchy and fun song that still expresses the desire to show love and compassion like Jesus.

It is by our differences and distinctions that we are recognized, honored, rejected, or despised… This all-pervasive competition, which reaches into the smallest corners of our relationships, prevents us from entering into full solidarity with each other, and stands in the way of our being compassionate. We prefer to keep compassion on the periphery of our competitive lives.

Being compassionate would require giving up dividing lines and relinquishing differences and distinctions.  And that would mean losing our identities.  This makes it clear why the call to be compassionate is so frightening and evokes such deep resistance.

The compassion Jesus offers challenges us to give up our fearful clinging and to enter with him into God’s fearless life…Jesus invites us to be as close to each other as God is to us.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 6:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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