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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Compassion

Craig Smith - Compassion

Craig Smith - Compassion
TOPICS: Chasing Peace, Compassion

Hey, welcome to Mission Hills, so good to have you with us today. We’re in the midst of a series called Chasing Peace. And here’s what we know so far. Thank you. We know that peace is never a product of our circumstances. Even if our circumstances are perfect, we become afraid they’re not gonna stay that way, and so we don’t have peace even in the midst of perfect circumstances as though that actually ever happened anyway, right? What we do know, however, is that peace is always a byproduct of our pursuit of godly character. So, when our eyes are fixed and becoming like Jesus and joining him on mission, as we become transformed into the people God designed us to be, we actually can find that we look around and realize that we’re experiencing peace in spite of difficult circumstances. So, peace is a product, it’s a byproduct of the pursuit of godly character.

And our guide in our pursuit of godly character for the series is found in Proverbs 6:16. Says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” And we know that God hates these things because he loves us. He hates these things because he knows the damage that these things do in our lives. And when these characteristics are part of our lives, he knows the damage that we do to others as well. He knows these things are piece killers. And so, what we’re doing in this series is we’re pursuing godly character by pursuing the opposite of each of these things.

And today what we’re gonna dig into is pursuing the opposite of hands that shed innocent blood. And the question is, what exactly is the opposite of hands that shed innocent blood? Well, here’s what I felt like the Lord laid on my heart, the opposite of hands that shed innocent blood are hands that show compassion to the guilty. That’s the opposite. Its hands show compassion to the guilty. Now, compassion is kind of an interesting word. I think we use the word compassion as though it were a synonym for kindness, but it’s not exactly kindness. It’s more than that. In fact, the Latin word that compassion comes from literally means to suffer with. It doesn’t just mean to be nice in a sort of an inexpensive way. It means to show a costly kindness that actually almost causes us to suffer. So, it’s not just, you know, smiling at somebody or, you know, pulling down the mask so they can see that we’re smiling at them, right? It’s not just a kind word. It’s actually, it’s being kind to them in a way that actually costs us something. It’s a sacrificial, even a suffering kind of kindness.

The other thing that’s interesting about compassion is it’s not just kindness shown to anybody. Its kindness shown to a particular group of people, particularly those who don’t really deserve it. I love this description of God himself. It’s found that Exodus chapter 34, verse 6. It says, “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” What I want you to notice there is how closely compassion, the compassion of God is connected to his willingness to forgive wickedness, rebellion and sin. None of those things deserve forgiveness. None of those things deserve kindness, but that’s what it means for God to be compassionate. He gives this costly kindness to those who don’t deserve it. That’s just who God is. That’s a description of God we find throughout Scripture.

I love the story that Jesus tells, the story of what we call the prodigal son. And maybe you’re familiar with the story. If not, I’ll just kind of give you the basics of it. Basically, it’s a story of a young man who went to his father and he basically said to him, “Hey old man, I’m really getting tired of waiting for you to die.” It’s a rough translation of the original Greek, trust me on that. And he said, “I want you to give me my inheritance now.” And his father did, his father gave him his portion of the inheritance. And then he left. He abandoned his family, which is a terrible thing in the ancient world. He abandoned his family, he went to a far country and then he just, he wasted his inheritance on wild living. Eventually, ended up feeding pigs. And as he fed the pigs, he looked at the slop he was giving him, and he thought if only I could eat that. He was being in a terrible place.

And so, he hatched this plan, he’s gonna go home and admit to his father, I’ve sinned against you and against heaven. You don’t deserve me as a son. I don’t deserve you to receive me as a son. So how about this? How about I just become a servant in your house? And then Jesus, as he was telling the story, he wrote this, he said, “And so he got up and he went to his father, but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. And he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” And it’s such beautiful picture of God, the Father. He’s a compassionate God. He doesn’t give us what we deserve. Instead, He gives us kindness, a costly kindness that we don’t deserve. And that’s what compassion is, costly kindness that is shown to those who’ve hurt us, who have sinned against us, who have wounded us. That’s what compassion is.

And what we’re gonna do today is we’re gonna talk about why it is that compassion is so foundational to the experience of peace in our lives. And I think the best place to do that is actually in another teaching of Jesus. And so if you wanna grab a Bible and join me, we’re gonna be spending most of our time today in Luke chapter 10, starting in verse 25. Jesus is teaching and in the midst of his teaching, something kind of interesting happens. Luke 10:25 says, “On one occasion, an expert in the Law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?'” Now seen as the Jesus is teaching has got a crowd of people and suddenly out of the crowd of people, this one guy stands up, everybody kind of like what’s gonna happen here, right? And he’s called an expert in the Law and make sure we understand that that means he was a religious expert. In the ancient world, an expert in the Law wasn’t an expert in tax law or codes, he wasn’t expert in commercial law, he wasn’t an expert in criminal law. He was an expert in what we would call the Old Testament of the Bible. He was an expert in the religious teachings of the Bible.

And so this is a religious expert. He’s a religious leader. And it says he stood up to test Jesus, that’s an interesting word. The original Greek word that’s used there is the same word that Jesus used when he speaking to the devil. And he said to the devil, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” And by using that word, what Luke is saying, Luke who wrote this account is saying hey, he wasn’t standing up there to learn something from Jesus. He was actually standing up there to try to get Jesus, to say something that he could pounce on. A few weeks ago, we talked about the difference between listening to learn information and the difference of listening to gain ammunition, right? Listening for info versus ammo. This is definitely an ammo seeking guy. He’s looking for something he can pounce on something he can use against Jesus. In spite of that, he asks a really good question. He said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

And I want you to pay attention to the way he said that. He said, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He didn’t say, what do I have to do to earn eternal life? He said, what must I do to inherit it? That’s really important statement. In spite of the fact that his motives were kinda messed up, his question is actually excellent because it clearly indicates that he understands something that is so important that we understand, which is that eternal life isn’t the result, it isn’t earned by our behavior. It’s the natural result of a right relationship with God, right? He says, what do I have to do to inherit? He understands that he can’t do enough good things to overcome his sin. He can’t do enough things to earn God’s favor. Instead, he has to be in a right relationship with God, because that’s what it means to inherit something, right? You inherit something not because you’ve earned it, but because you have a relationship with the person. Now, not just any relationship, it’s gotta be a right relationship. Anybody here ever been written out of a will? No? Okay, good. Just because you are related to somebody doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll inherit anything from them. You gotta have a good relation. It’s gotta be a right relationship. And that man understands that principle.

And so, he’s going, basically he’s saying, how can I be confident that I’m in a right relationship with God? That’s the real question. How can I be confident that I am in a right relationship with God? How do I know that I have peace with God? How do I know that I’m in a position to inherit eternal life from my Father? How can I be confident I’m in a right relationship with God? That’s the question he’s asking. And Jesus answers. He said, well, what is written in the Law? “What is written in the Law? he replied, how do you read it?” In other words, well, you’re a religious expert. You know the content of Scripture; you have a lot of knowledge. You tell me, how do you read it? And it’s interesting shift there. He goes from, you know, what does the Bible say to how do you read it, which really means how do you understand it? And I love that because here’s the truth. Listen, knowledge is good. Understanding is better. Does that make sense? He says, you know, it’s one thing to have knowledge of Scripture. It’s one thing to have a grasp of the content, but I’m really interested in how you understand it. Do you understand what it means? You know what God said, but do you understand what it means and how it’s supposed to be put into practice in our lives? Here’s the reality. Sometimes having knowledge without understanding is actually dangerous. Do you know that?

Several years ago, we hadn’t been married very long, Coletta and I went and we visited my grandparents in Mississippi and we went to church with them and I heard a sermon, I can’t believe that this was done in a house of God, but the pastor basically preached about the sin of interracial marriage. That if a black man and a white woman married each other, it’s an abomination to God. It’s a sin to God. And he used a passage from the Book of Deuteronomy and it just, it completely abused the meaning of that. Yeah, he quoted this verse. He knew what the verse said, but he clearly didn’t understand what it meant. And I just remember, I was just so frustrated by that. And I expressed that to people and they said, “Well, you know, that’s the culture down there.” I was like, “What does that have to do with anything? We can’t allow culture to be an excuse for sin.”

And then a couple years later, I was visiting my parents and my grandmother was there. And something came up about an interracial marriage. I think it was a black woman and a white man. And she said something about like what a disgrace that was. And I just, I couldn’t help it. I challenged my grandma. I said, “Hey Grandmother.” I was as respectful as possible. I said, “That’s just really racist.” And she said, “What are you talking about? It’s in the Bible.” She said, “Deuteronomy 7:3.” And I said, “Grandmother, that verse, it’s telling that God commanded his people, the Israelites, not to marry the other people in the nations around them because they didn’t follow God. They followed false gods and he knew that if their sons or the daughters married those people, then it would lead his people to stop worshiping him.” I said, “If there’s any equivalent to that in the New Testament, it’s the Apostle Paul saying, “Don’t be unequally yoked with a nonbeliever.”

You know, yoke, meaning, you know, the yoke that comes down on two oxen as they pull something forward. He says, “Don’t be unequally yoked.” If you’re getting married, for instance, to a nonbeliever, you’re unequally yoked, you don’t share the same beliefs and you can’t move your family forward in the way that God intends. That’s the closest equivalent. It’s about a religious thing. It’s not about a race thing, it’s not black and white.” And she stared at me and I was like, how much trouble am I in right now? And then she said, the strangest thing, she said, “I’ve been going to church for 80 some odd years and I’ve never understood that.” That’s what she was taught. She was taught content without understanding, right? She was taught knowledge without understanding, quote the verses, but that’s not what they understood. And that’s why I say it can be dangerous. There is such thing…listen to me, there is such a thing as a well-informed ignorance and it’s dangerous.

And so, Jesus speaking to this religious expert, he says, “I know you understand the content, but I wanna know, do you understand what it means? How do you read it?” And he answered, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” Now, understand that’s almost identical to what Jesus himself said. At one point he was asked, hey Teacher, what are the…of all the commandments in the Old Testament, what are the greatest commandment? What is the greatest commandment? And Jesus said, “Well, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord, your God, with all that you are with all that you have.” And then he said it and the second commandment is like it, which is to love your neighbor as yourself, directly from the Book of Leviticus. And understand what this man says here is almost identical. It’s almost word for word to what Jesus said. And it could be that he had been listening to Jesus and he was quoting back. But it’s not necessary because honestly what this man says here, what Jesus said was actually a pretty common understanding among the rabbis of the first century. The rabbis in the first century understood that there were 613 commandments in the Old Testament, but they all boil down to basically 2 categories, which was love God with everything that you are and love your neighbor as yourself. That was a very common understanding.

And so, this man says that, and Jesus looks at him, verse 28 says, “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” He gets a big attaboy. He said, you got it right. Do this and you’ll live. And I think that’s interesting too because he’s moved from knowledge to understanding and now he’s moved to action, right? Listen, knowledge is good, understanding is better, action is best. It’s one thing to know what the Word of God says, it’s another thing, it’s a better thing to understand what it means. And more importantly is that you put it into practice in your life. So, he says, “Do this and you’ll live.” Live in this way and you can be confident that you’re at peace with God. You can be confident you’re in a right relationship with God and that you will inherit eternal life.

But he wanted to justify himself. And so, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” It’s interesting. It’s kind of an interesting translation thing there. Almost every English translation says it the same way, he wanted to justify himself, wanting to justify himself. In the original Greek though, literally what Luke who wrote this account says is the one wanting to justify himself. It’s how he identifies the man. The man is the one wanting to justify himself. And what he’s doing is reminding us, this man isn’t looking for info. He’s looking for ammo. He’s not looking to learn from Jesus. He’s still trying to catch Jesus in something that he says that he can use it against him. And so far, Jesus hasn’t given him any ammunition, so he asks a loaded question and this question and who is my neighbor, it is a loaded question.

See, when the verse was first given in Leviticus to love your neighbor as yourself, everybody kinda understood, well, my neighbor is everybody living in Israel. All of Israel, all of the people of Israel, that’s my neighbor because they were all Jewish, right? Everybody living in Israel at that time was all Jewish. And so, it basically is everybody who lives near me. That’s my neighbor. But then over time, what happened was the Greek Empire conquered this part of the world, then the Roman Empire. And there were a lot of different people who’d kind of moved in. And so, it wasn’t necessarily true that everybody living within Israel was Jewish anymore. You had some Greeks living there and some Romans living there. And so, you could no longer define your neighbor as, you know, those who live near me. And so, what they were doing is they were starting to draw smaller circles, started out everybody lives near me, and then it became, well, everybody who looks like me and lives near me. In other words, you know, we can exclude the Greeks and the Romans, but, you know, all the Jewish people who live near me and look like me. But then Judaism itself was kind of fractured at this point. It wasn’t just Judaism. There were different factions within it. And so maybe you’ve heard of the Pharisees, that was one school of thought. There was the Sadducees, that was another school of thought. And then there was also the Essenes and the Zealots, kind of like denominations for Christians. And so, they were kind of, the Pharisees were like, you know, okay, well, they gotta live near me and look like me and think like me. They gotta think like I do too. That’s who my neighbor is. They were drawing smaller and smaller circles.

And the thing is that the Jesus had a tendency to draw larger circles and show love and compassion to people that most of the religious experts didn’t want anything to do with. So, he knew that this is a loaded question. When he asked who is my neighbor, he knew Jesus was probably gonna define his neighbor circle in a way that not everybody’s gonna agree with and that would give him something he could use against Jesus. He probably expected Jesus to say something controversial at this point, but I promise you, he never dreamed that Jesus would say this.

In reply, Jesus said, “Well, a man,” and understand that was a Jewish man, “was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, to Jewish cities when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, they beat him, and they went away leaving him half dead. Now, a priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. And so too a Levite he came to the place and saw the man, passed by on the other side.” Priests and a Levite see the Jewish man lying there and they both pass by on the other side. They make as much distance as they can from him. And what’s interesting is, you know, a priest and a Levite, well that those are two Jewish people, right? And they’re not just Jewish people. They’re like top of the line Jewish. These are top shelf Jewish people. Because priests and Levites, those were both inherited positions. You inherited them because your parents were Jewish people of that same position. These are people with the highest possible pedigree when it came to their Jewishness. And there’s a Jewish man lying there, but his Jewishness and their Jewishness was not enough for them to go he’s my neighbor. That’s not where they drew the circle.

And they were religious Jews too, right? Very religious, priest and a Levites, those are both religious positions. So, you would expect by virtue of their faith, if not by virtue of their ethnicity, at least by virtue of their faith, they would see him as a neighbor and be compassionate to him. But neither of them has done that. And it’s kind of interesting. Jesus is making a very subtle but a very important point. Remember the question here is how do I know that I have peace with God? How do I know I’m in a right relationship with God? And what Jesus has just said here is, don’t make any mistake, he said religion doesn’t provide proof of peace. Your religion does not provide the proof of peace that you’re looking for. It’s possible to go to church. It’s possible to know a lot about the Bible. It’s possible the quote the Bible in a lot of different settings, and to do all these religious things and not actually be in a right relationship with God. These people by virtue of their ethnicity and certainly by virtue of their religious knowledge and positions, they should have seen this man as a neighbor, but they didn’t.

Listen, religion does not provide the proof of peace that you’re looking for, he says. “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity.” And the Greek word for took pity as the same word for had compassion. He had compassion on him. If you don’t know, Samaritans don’t belong in this story. There was a long history of hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans. They had a common history. If you could go back far enough the Samaritans actually came from Jewish blood, but they had intermarried with the peoples of the surrounding places, so they were sort of divided from the Jews now ethnically. They’re also divided politically. Typically, the Samaritans had responded very differently to the Greek and the Roman powers that had come in than the Jews had. And so, they were divided ethnically. They’re also divided politically, and they’re divided theologically. I mean, they worshiped the same God. In fact, the Samaritans had a scripture even. They had an Old Testament that was very, very similar to the Jewish Old Testament, just very minor differences, but they had diverged on a really important point, which is where you could worship. The Jews said you can only come to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, but the Samaritans had built their own temple in their territory, partly because they weren’t allowed to go to the temple in Jerusalem. And the Jews hated that temple. And so, in about 120 BC, they got an army up, they invaded Samaritan territory and they destroyed that temple. You understand from the Samaritan position, that man right there was the enemy. He was somebody who had hurt his people deeply over centuries. But what did he do? He had compassion on him. And he wasn’t just kind to him, it was a costly kindness.

Jesus said, “He went to him and he bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. And then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day, he took out two denarii,” two coins, “and he gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ He said, ‘And when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have,'” which I gotta tell you financially was a dumb move. Like this is stupid. Innkeepers were kind of sketchy individuals. Inns themselves were considered very, very sketchy places. Innkeepers in particular were not considered trustworthy individuals. And this man has basically given the innkeeper an open line of credit. Like here’s some money to help pay for whatever you have to do to take care of this guy, but if you go by beyond that, then, you know, I’ll settle up the differences when I come back. I can promise you, there is no chance there wasn’t gonna be some additional expense. This innkeeper would find some additional expenses, but the Samaritan didn’t care. See, that’s costly. In a very literal way, it’s an unlimited cost, essentially. He said, “I’ll pay it.” “Which of these three,” Jesus asked to the expert of the Law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

What’s so interesting about that is that’s not the question that was asked. Jesus has changed the question, right? I mean, the man wanted to know who qualifies, who do I have to show kindness to? Who do I have to love? And Jesus turned that around. He said, no, no, no. That’s not the right question. The right question is basically who acted like a neighbor? Who lived out God’s Word? Who went from knowledge to understand and do action? Who acted like the neighbor that God says that we’re supposed to be? In other words, what Jesus has basically done is he’s changed the question to, you know, who’s in a right relationship with God? Who’s at peace with God and confident they’re gonna inherit eternal life? Here’s the question. Jesus changed it to which one shows the family resemblance. Because we inherit eternal life. You gotta be a child of God. My question is of these three, which one showed the family resemblance? And the expert in the Law replied, “Well, I mean the one who had mercy.” Or that’s the same Greek word for compassion, “The one who had compassion on him.” And Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Remember what started the whole thing, the man said, “Hey, how can I be confident I’m in a right relationship with God? How can I be confident that I’m at peace with my Father who is the only one who can pass to me eternal life as an inheritance? How can I know I’m at peace with God? How can I be confident of that?” And what Jesus has basically said is, well, “Do you have your Father’s eyes, right? Do you have your Father’s eyes? Do you have the family resemblance? Do you look on others with the same compassion that your Father looks at you? Do you look on others who have harmed you with the same compassion that God looks upon you with, you who have sinned and rebelled against him? Do you have your Father’s eyes? Because if you do, then you can be confident. You can be confident that you’re at peace with God. You can be confident in a right relationship with God. You can be confident that you will inherit from your Father eternal life. Do you have your Father’s eyes? And what he’s saying and so important here is he’s saying that peace depends upon compassion. The compassion itself is foundational to our experience of peace. Three quick reasons why. Number one, compassion is the proof of peace with God. This man is looking for some kind of proof of peace. And Jesus has said, it’s not religion, it’s certainly not what you know. It’s not even what you understand it. It’s how you live. Compassion is your proof of peace with God.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that compassion leads to salvation. I’m not saying that if we’re compassionate to people, we will be saved. Jesus is very clear. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Faith in Jesus, his death on the cross for our sins, his resurrection from the dead and receiving that gift that he offers by faith, that’s the only way to be saved, okay? Compassion doesn’t save us. But compassion is the proof that we have been saved. It’s the best proof that we’ve been saved. And I think it’s partly because compassion like Jesus is talking about here is completely unnatural. It’s not the way we do. It’s one thing to be nice to people who are strangers or nice people that we know, but to be nice and not just to be nice, but to show a costly kindness to those who have wounded us, who’ve harmed us, that’s not natural. That is unnatural. That is…well that is supernatural. And that only happens when God works in our lives and therefore compassion like Jesus is talking about, that is the proof that the power of God is at work in our lives, transforming us, making us more and more like Jesus. So, compassion is the proof of peace with God. But beyond that, compassion is also the thing that perpetuates peace with God. Compassion perpetuates peace with God.

And the reason I say that is because Jesus on a number of occasions said some pretty scary things. And maybe one of the scariest is this, he’d been teaching the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe, you know the Lord’s Prayer. It’s got a line in the middle of it that says, forgive us, our sins and then a very inconvenient follow-up, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. And then, because that wasn’t inconvenient enough, he leans in, he finished his teaching that prayer and he says, I wanna make sure you didn’t miss that. And so, he says this, this is Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive other people, when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Anybody else find that just a little bit alarming? Now understand, I don’t believe given the whole teaching of Scripture that Jesus is saying, you know, if you’ve been forgiven by God and you’re in a relationship with him and you don’t forgive somebody that you’ve lost your salvation. I don’t believe he’s saying that. But there’s eternal peace with God. And then there’s the day by day peace that we so much need to live as God’s people in this world. There’s a daily experience of peace and of grace and of mercy from God that we need to be close to him, to have him ever present in our lives. And the thing is, if we’re not willing to forgive, which is an expression of compassion, right? Because they’ve done wrong to us. So, it’s a costly kindness to forgive that wrong. If we’re not compassionate on others, then that flow of God’s daily forgiveness and grace, it’s like we’re kinking the hose and we don’t experience that day in and day out, moment by moment. And so, it’s our willingness to be compassionate to others that keeps that compassion flowing to us. So, compassion perpetuates peace with God. And then finally, compassion produces peace. Practicing compassion produces peace with others, not just with God, but with others by killing hostility.

Here’s the thing, it’s very difficult to be hostile towards someone who is helping you. It’s also very difficult to be hostile towards someone while you are helping them. Hostility is killed by compassion. Couple years ago, there was a comedian. His name was Pete Davidson and he was on “Saturday Night Live”. And he did a bit where he mocked a Congressman named Dan Crenshaw. He mocked his physical appearance because he was missing an eye and he mocked his politics on national television. Well, the thing is, you know, Dan was missing the eye because he lost it in combat and he was a congressman and pretty well-respected, honestly. And the thing is the internet blew up. And for once the internet did, what I think was probably a good thing, which is they pushed back on Pete Davidson. They pushed back on the comedian. You know, how dare you mock this man. When have you served or anything like that? He’s a hero and so on and so forth. And it was such a powerful backlash from the internet that Pete Davidson began to spiral into depression. In fact, he got so deep and so dark that eventually one day he posted online, and he said, “I don’t know how much longer I wanna stay in this world. I don’t know how much longer I can stay in this world.” Just warning you in advance.

And Dan Crenshaw, who’d been mocked by this man, he saw, and he saw it for what it was, which was if not a suicidal thought, at least very, very close to it. And he used his congressional powers and he found Pete Davidson’s phone number and Dan called him and he said, “I forgive you.” And then he said this. He said, “You need to understand that God made you for a purpose. And your job is to figure out that purpose and then live in light of it.” And later Pete Davidson publicly apologized and essentially credited Dan with saving his life with that display of compassion. Interesting note, Pete Davidson later, after some time passed, he later recanted his apology. He took it back. And I say that because this is an interesting thing that I think as Christians, we need to pay attention to. In the moment that we’ve experienced God’s grace and his mercy and his forgiveness, his compassion, it makes us really compassionate on others. But then as time goes by and we’re further removed from our experience of God’s compassion, it’s easy for our compassion to grow cold. And so, the farther away we have come from our experience of God’s compassion, the less compassionate we become on others. I think you see that in that relationship. But initially in that experience of Dan’s outpouring of compassion, the hostility between those two was killed and there was peace. See, practicing compassion brings peace with others by killing hostility. Bottom line, whether we’re talking about God or other people, practicing compassion produces peace. That my friends is why. Practices compassion produces peace.

So, let me ask you this question, who do I feel the greatest hostility towards? Wrestle with that question. It’s probably not hard, honestly. It’s probably pretty easy to identify somebody that you feel significant hostility towards. Maybe it’s somebody near to you. Maybe it’s somebody at a distance you’ve never even met, but you find yourself thinking with hostility of that person. Probably not hard to identify somebody you feel hostility towards. Here’s the much harder question. What would it look like to extend compassion to them this week? What it looks like for me to extend compassion to that person that I feel such hostility towards? And maybe a very practical thing that you can do, maybe you can in a very tangible way express a costly kindness to them, to those who’ve hurt you. Maybe it’s not as practical. Maybe it’s a phone call to say, “Hey, I forgive you. You’ve asked for my forgiveness and I haven’t given it, but it’s time for me to do that. I’m sorry that I waited so long.” Maybe it’s that. Or maybe, honestly, maybe you don’t have a relationship with this person you feel hostility towards. So maybe what you can do is you can start praying for them. And I say pray for them. I don’t mean pray that God would smite them. Okay. That’s not my point. I don’t mean that pray that God would show them the error of their ways or bring them, you know, the just punishment for their sins and what they’ve done to you, or at least that you perceive that they’ve done. No, I mean pray for them to come to know God, to have faith in his Son, Jesus, to experience God’s compassion and forgiveness and a right relationship with him. Maybe it’s to actually pray that God would bring good into their lives. That’s a difficult ask. I know that, it’s a big ask, but that’s what makes it compassion.

Last question is this, how I experience the compassion God calls me to extend? The reason I say that is because remember what Jesus is calling us to do here isn’t natural. It’s unnatural. It is supernatural. It’s only possible because the power of God is at work in our lives. We cannot extend the compassion that we have not experienced. The truth of matter is how God calls us to live is impossible without a work of God in our lives. And my guess is that there’s some people listening to this who maybe you grew up in church and you thought your religion was your proof of peace with God, your proof of your right relationship with God, or maybe this is your first time being in church or being part of a church service, and you’re easily able to say, yeah, I don’t have any reason to have confidence that I’m in a right relationship with God. But you can. Whether you’ve been depending on a religion or this is your first time ever contemplating the question, you can have the confidence that this man was looking for when he came to Jesus. You can know that you’re in a position to inherit eternal life, that you’re in a right relationship with God, that you have peace with God, and you do it by faith. This is how we experience the compassion, which is the only thing that allows us to begin to extend it to others.

In fact, I’m just gonna asking everybody close your eyes, bow your heads. And if you’re listening to this and you realize you have never said yes to faith in Jesus, because of that you can’t say with any confidence that you’re in a right relationship with God, here’s how you do it. Listen, God loves you so much. He sent his own Son to die for you, to pay the price for all the wrong you’d ever done. That was his compassion on you. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. That’s a fact of history. And Jesus offers you forgiveness, salvation and eternal life, a right relationship with God simply by choosing to put your trust in him and to follow him. And if you’re ready to do that, here’s what it looks like. Just to have this conversation with God in your heart, say this to him, say:

God, I’ve done it wrong. I’ve sinned against you and I’m sorry. Thank you for your compassion on me. Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. That is a costly kindness and I’m grateful. I believe you rose from the dead, Jesus, and I understand that you’re offering me forgiveness, eternal life that comes from a right relationship with God. And so right here, right now, Jesus, I’m putting my faith in you. I’m choosing to trust you, to follow you. Jesus, I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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