If someone tells you to go a mile, go the second mile. You have read this in Matthew 5:41, and in your mind you understand what it means. But in your heart? Now that is another issue. Until the message hits the deepest spiritual recesses of your heart, your faith can’t inspire compassionate ministry. “‘For I was hungry’ Jesus said, ‘and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me'” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV). Jesus taught us to share ourselves with great compassion and concern for others, because of the sacrificial compassion He had for us.
Jesus Christ had the greatest compassion for people. His deepest compassion was for their spiritual needs, but in response to their physical needs he healed those who were sick, and fed those who were hungry. Although he was exhausted much of the time, he found renewing strength to continue. He truly had a servant’s attitude and a compassionate heart. Paul wrote, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4, NIV). We are called to sacrificially share. We are called to give expecting nothing in return. We are called to care for others. Compassionate service is not an option. It is not a suggestion. It is a command.
Jesus said “yes” to God. We are also to say “yes” when God’s calls. Just as Christ honored his own call by giving His life, so we also must honor our own by giving ours. We shall also stand accountable for how we handle God’s trust (Romans 11:29, NIV). Jesus struggled in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked God if it was His will to please spare Him, but in the end He gave His life. When we also yield to God’s will, we learn obedience and perseverance. It is important to persevere in our calling to help others. We need to go out of our way because it costs something. It costs time. Sometimes it costs money. Most of all it costs our heart. Until we understand the cost in our heart, we can’t understand the price that Jesus Christ paid.
Faith and action go hand in hand. We serve others not to receive for ourselves, but because Jesus has loved us. If I for one moment consider what I shall receive in response to my giving, then I have lost the reason for giving it. What has the Lord called you to give? How has the Lord called you to help? If you look for Jesus in your giving, instead of considering it something else that has to be done in your busy day, you will discover the great cost of His sacrifice for you. You will also discover that the least you give becomes the greatest gift to someone in need.
Compassionate care is the heart of Jesus.