Week 9: Compassion

Matthew 5:38-48

Over the past few weeks there have been many challenges presented to us through the Sermon on the Mount.  Many of the ideas we have looked at will take some time to fully understand and to live out.  It is important for us to revisit these passages on a regular basis so as to not forget how Jesus calls us to live our lives as his disciples.  As we continue to walk through these teachings together I pray that you stay patient and persistent.  At times it can be overwhelming to see what it takes to follow Christ but I would encourage you to keep pushing forward, not letting anything stand in the way of your learning and growth.  We all make mistakes and fall short, but God’s grace surrounds us, and He is waiting for us to return to his presence.

This week we are looking at some difficult passages to comprehend.  Both look at what it means to be compassionate and loving.  As you read through these verses be attentive to what God may be saying to you personally, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you.

I read a book a few years ago during Lent that was filled with a variety of essays by famous authors discussing temptation, passion, crucifixion, and resurrection.  Today as I reflect on the idea of compassion and loving your enemies I am reminded of a story that I read.  Read through this short parable and reflect on what exactly is trying to be said:

There is a story of an old man who used to meditate early every morning under a big tree on the banks of the Ganges River.  One morning, after he had finished his meditation, the old man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water.  As the scorpion washed closer to the tree, the old man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that branched out into the river and reached out to rescue the drowning creature.  As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him.  Instinctively the man withdrew his hand.  A minute later, after he had regained his balance, he stretched himself out again on the roots to save the scorpion.  This time the scorpion stung him so badly with its poisonous tail that his hand became swollen and his face contorted with pain.

At that moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted, “Hey, stupid old man, what’s wrong with you?  Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”

The old man turned his head.  Looking into the stranger’s eyes he said calmly, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”  The scorpion he had tried to save finally killed him.

This story reminds of us the compassion that God has for us.  Even though we constantly are rejecting him, hurting him, and not acknowledging his grace, he still sent Jesus Christ to save us.  He continues to pursue us every day, never giving up.  This is a perfect image of compassion.

This week spend a lot of time thinking about what it truly means to love your enemies, to show them compassion.  Try to make sense of how we are to do this in our world today.  What needs to change in your life?  How can we become better at demonstrating compassion to those around us?

Finally, read this quote from Mother Teresa and think about what this means for you and our world today:

“If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

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