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Seeing the Harvest

{Matthew 9:36-38; ESV}
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 

I think one of the ways we can measure our spiritual growth is the greater compassion we have for people in tragic situations. When I was younger it was easy for me to negatively judge people because of the bad circumstances in their lives. “After all,” I reasoned; “if they would make better choices they wouldn’t find themselves in those difficult circumstances.”  Compassion was absent from my life.  Now my heart breaks when I see people throw their lives away, because I know God has a life that is so much better than the one they are living.

I don’t want to diminish the responsibility each of us has for the choices that we make, but I have come to realize that many choices are made because people just don’t know any better. They have had bad models for their lives and are unaware where to turn for help. They may want to change but don’t know what to do. We also need to remember many of the sin addictions people have are the result of their desire to cope with the tragic circumstances of their lives and now they are in a cycle that they can’t break.

When we read the gospels it appears that when Jesus looked at a crowd of people He didn’t see dirty rotten sinners; instead He saw lost travellers. Rather than condemning people for their faults and sins, Jesus showed them compassion and acceptance.  Jesus was the one person who could sit in judgment but He chose to extend help instead.

If we believe we have God’s truth it is tempting to judge people, rather than to help them. That was one of the sins Jesus condemned the Pharisees for having.  Focusing solely on the truth can make us feel superior, and thus we think we are in the position to judge the lives of those around us. It also gives us a sense that we are doing God’s work since we are standing up for God’s truth.  Yet, in Revelation 2:1-7 Jesus told the church in Ephesus that they were in danger of being shut out of the Kingdom because they did not love.  The Ephesians were known for standing up for the truth, but somewhere along the line they had lost their love.

Compassion, which is a form of love, must be mixed with truth.  It is the mixture of the two which provides us with the ability to influence the people in our lives.  The example of Jesus is that of compassion and truth.  Jesus loved people, where they were at, and yet He always told them the truth.  Truth is a lot easier to take when you know it comes from a person who cares for you.

Jesus looked at the crowds of people and He saw people who were lost and who had no idea how to find their way home.  What these people needed was a person who would show them compassion by pointing them in the right direction.

The legions of people who need help are more than we can help by ourselves, so what can we do? If we are going to show compassion to the world we have to pray. Prayer helps us gain a proper perspective on life and what is happening around us. It also helps us to align our hearts with God’s hearts. On top of that we are to ask God to provided what we need: workers for the harvest. There is a shortage of leaders able to show the lost the way home.

Compassion is not just reserved for our prayer life, but it is also about how we live. Jesus lived in such a way to show the people around Him that He knew the Way they were to travel. As Jesus’ Followers we have that same responsibility of living our lives in a way to show people that there is a better way to live.

Ultimately what we need is a change of perspective. Instead of seeing the people of the world as dirty rotten sinners we need to see them as lost travelers trying desperately to get home, or better yet, a field ready for harvest.


f said…
Well said!

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