“Compassion”

 

Chapel Service

All American Raceway

October 14, 2012

“Compassion”

 

 Bob Butcher

 

In a short time we will enter the holiday season again.  For most it is a time of family celebration, vacation, gifts, and joy. I love it also, however, at the same time I think more on today’s subject than all the rest of the year together.

 I am talking about “Compassion.”  If you think about it just a little bit you find that it is very close to “Passion” which we talked about before.

I could easily give you a dictionary definition however let me give you a couple of examples instead. You find the first in Matthew 8:1-3.

 “Large crowds followed Jesus when He came down from the hillside. There was a leper who came and knelt in front of Him. “Sir,” he said, “if you want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and placed it on the leper saying, “Of course I want to. Be clean!” And at once he was clear of the leprosy.”

 Now, that sounds kind and a miracle for sure.  But there is far more to the story here once you understand the culture and background.  You see people who had leprosy were the most ostracized people of their day.  When they were discovered they were driven, yes …DRIVEN, with stones thrown and made to live among the colony of others in the same state, in caves and wilderness away from family and normal people.

 Anytime someone walked toward them, they had to loudly proclaim ‘UNCLEAN” over & over and stay out of their way completely.  Stop and think of the embarrassment and painful heartache it meant to the person with that disease …or anything resembling it since the results was the same.  How about when it was their own personal family member and loved one?  If anyone got near to them they too were labeled UNCLEAN and were sent away until time was shown and confirmed by a priest that they were CLEAN and okay to return to normal life.

 I chose this story because of Jesus’ response.  You can look at His compassion to many others in the four Gospels.  My favorite is the man born blind in John 9.  Check it out and enjoy it with me. It’s funny too!

 So what do you think was so far out of order in Jesus response to this man?  It is the fact that Jesus reached out and placed His hand on the man!  True, He is God incarnate and here as a human man.  However, it is also deep compassion.  Just think of the last time the man had a touch from another human.  When was the last time someone had any kind of warm, tender, compassionate feeling directed at him?  Plus, I am 100% sure that it wasn’t a quick touch by a finger or something like that.

What about the religious leaders of that day who had no realistic grip on reality?  I am sure that somebody who saw it happen tipped them off and put Jesus in worse jeopardy …well, not really …but still makes life worse for Him.

  • Would you have touched him if you stopped to pray for him?
  • Would you have even done that since it was totally against the law of the land to get near these people?
  • Would you have stood up to the Pharisees & religious leaders?

 I wonder about myself too. 

 Today there are many people in the same kind of torment and outcast from their society around the world.  How about right here in our own nation?  Yes, in America we are far safer and mostly safe from these kinds of persecution today.

 In Albuquerque I told you about our family and overseas trips into the former Soviet Bloc before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 along with our Mexico trips to build houses.  It was compassion for the people and the terrible situation they were living in that drove us.

 Today, I cannot sit down and watch a simple movie without weeping over fictional issues in the movie!  Seriously, …sometimes I’m ridiculous! ..Just ask Kathy.  All I know is that God has changed me.

 Did you ever see the photograph that won a Pulitzer was of a woman staring at the massive destruction – and weeping.  Her mind could not process the suffering of her people, and as her heart was crushed, tears poured from her eyes.  Sometimes tears are the only appropriate response.  Jesus even responded that way in Luke 19:41 as He approached Jerusalem marked by corruption and injustice and the pain they create.  He looked into the future and wept out of compassion and grief.

  •  As we encounter inhumanity, suffering, and sin that wreaks havoc in our world …how do we respond?

 In Deuteronomy 15 Moses emphasized the reality of poverty and affliction.  In Jeremiah 4:19 and Lamentations 3:48-51 Jeremiah speaks of weeping over the pain and torment inflicted upon people even though in all reality they ask for it …the point blank result of sin and rebellion against God.

Moses warned of four dangers inherent to our hearts in times like this:

  1. A hard heart, – ignoring the need (vs7)
  2. A closed hand, withholding what they lack (vs.7)
  3. An evil thought & hesitating because it may benefit you (vs. 9)
  4. A grudging spirit – reluctance to help the person you can (vs. 10)
  • “But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them. Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need. Do not be mean-spirited and refuse someone help because the year for canceling debts is close at hand. If you refuse to help and the needy person cries out to the Lord, you will be considered guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. 11 There will always be some in the land who are poor, homeless, and abused. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.

 Note that even more importantly than selfishness they are encouraged to be spontaneously generous.(vs. 8, 10, 11)

 It is the same today as we must keep a spirit of generosity toward the needy by opening our hearts and hands to help when the opportunity arises.  Remember that generosity stems from the heart that has experienced God’s grace.

 Now, to put this in perspective a bit …

If you consider the last message I brought at Albuquerque, you know that I totally believe this Series already goes far into the realm of compassion and assistance when there is a need known.  You have proved that already.

 Now, to put this in perspective a bit …

If you consider the last message I brought at Albuquerque, you know that I totally believe this Series already goes far into the realm of compassion and assistance when there is a need known. You have proved that already.

 My thought is: where can each one of us play a compassionate role for the holiday season?  What about next season?  Next year we have the opportunity to pick a big need where we as a NASCAR Series can make a difference for some kids, people, group, community or whomever.

 We can hear ideas and dreams then discuss the possibility.  I am open to help lead the project and do most of whatever footwork, etc., there is to do.  Anyone got a passion that will show our compassion?

 We can also remember the homeless, families, kids, along with human trafficking, community development, disaster areas or whatever we, as a NASCAR racing community decide.  Let’s look into bringing some recognition to our Series also with public awareness of who we are and what we believe in.  We can set a wonderful example.

 Meanwhile, let’s all not forget to be aware of the need around us daily!

 As the holiday season arrives there are so many different kinds of opportunity to help …especially kids.  You can chose kids in hospitals, military family kids …especially ones with their parent overseas defending our nation.  How about kids with parents incarcerated because it certainly is not the kids fault their parents are in prison.

 Not long ago I was helping three of Salem’s women’s shelters and the kids barely had enough clothing and they sure were not new either! 

 As I write this I have been listening to K-Love on the radio which Michael McDowell promotes with his Sprint Cup and Nationwide car.  Here is a station that has helped hundreds of people at the exact worst moment of their life by broadcasting the song that touched the problem exactly; or are there 24 – 7 with a Pastor to talk and pray with you.  Truly, it has an amazing record of intervention at the critical, life threatening, time.  You can go to Klove.com to check this incredible ministry out and donate of course.

 There will never be a time when there are not enough opportunities for anyone to not be needed.

2014-02-28T08:58:31+00:00