Choosing Compassion When You Feel Contempt

What's On Your Mind Title Slide

A sermon idea based on Matthew 9:35-38.

Matthew 9:35-38 NRSV

[35] Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. [36] When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. [37] Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; [38] therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The Big Idea

Whenever we feel contempt toward a person or a whole group of people, we can choose to practice compassion by seeing people as God sees them.

Sometimes, we see the crowds (or the caravans) and we just see masses of people we don’t know, and maybe don’t even like (even if we’re not sure why. We respond to the sights of crowds with apathy and coldness, or even with anger and contempt. And if we’re honest, we do the same thing with the people who are close to us in our lives. We often can be cold to the people to whom we are closest in life.

It’s a heart issue! So, we need the heart of Jesus because Jesus saw people differently!

4 Rock-Solid Convictions That Create a Heart of Compassion

1. Crowds are full of people.

Seems obvious but we often just see crowds. Jesus saw people. The gospels are filled with stories of Jesus, seeing through crowds to individuals who desperately needed him in their lives.

2. Everybody matters.

ALL people are created in God’s image. Everyone you meet today is an image bearer of God. We live in a culture that has dehumanized humans! We’ve objectified people. We need to re-humanize them.

3. Everyone has a story. Even you.

We’re good at hiding our stories. And we’re also good at ignoring the stories of others. But everyone has a story, and every story is important.

“Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story… Never underestimate the impact that your mere existence can have on another human being… There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” – Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)

Sharing your story, and listening to the stories of others, creates vulnerability. Vulnerability paves the way for trust, intimacy, and relationships.

4. Real compassion shows up as service.

Compassion doesn’t just see the suffering and pain of others. Compassion acts. In fact, to see pain and suffering in the world and do nothing about it may just demonstrate the greatest coldness of all.

Jesus didn’t just model choosing compassion. He didn’t just touch and heal and serve people. He also commissioned his followers to do the same.

In the passage right after Matthew 9:35-38, we read this…

Matthew 10:1-8 NRSV

[1] Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. [2] These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; [3] Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; [4] Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. [5] These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, [6] but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ [8] Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

And today, Jesus is still choosing, calling, commissioning, equipping, and empowering people to go show compassion and love, to heal, to preach and teach, to minister and serve.

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