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The Importance of Compassion and the Image of Israel

Chosen People Ministries, February 2019

Christians are commanded to reach the world for Jesus according to passages such as Matthew 28:19–20 and Acts 1:8.

Yet, the motivation for missions—especially to resistant groups, such as the Jewish people and Muslims—often requires an even greater dedication and a broken heart to fuel the passion needed to sustain what can seem like an unsuccessful ministry. Loss of motivation is perfectly understandable, as we are all human.

Jesus’ example shows He was motivated by compassion.1 As Matthew records,

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:36–38)

What is compassion? It is the feeling you have when you see a baby suffering or a person you love in intolerable pain. It is the sense we have when we see pictures of poor children or we walk into a poverty-stricken area and see children in rags and eating from garbage pits. It is the unutterable moan that bursts forth from the depth of our soul because of the human condition that leads to tears and sacrificial action.

In Matthew 23:37–39, we read of the Savior’s compassion and broken heart for His own people, and for all people when He says,

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The Apostle Paul also understood the compassion of the Savior and felt the same toward his people. He writes in Romans 9:

“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Romans 9:1–2)

This is the kind of compassion that drove the Savior and should move us, as well.

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