Our current Ladies Bible Study, "I Saw the Lord," led me to ask some tough questions this afternoon as I was working through this week's pages. One of the first questions was, "Do I make it a disciplined practice to give where and when giving is needed?" This wasn't necessarily referring to money, although that could be included. For me, the question focused most prominently on my time and words or acts of encouragement.
I'm quite selfish with my time. I realize that full well. Especially time with Darin or other family/close friends. But, honestly, I'm even worse when I'm tired. Somehow, I think that being selfish when I'm tired is an excuse for brushing off the loneliness of others or their need to have someone listen.
Jesus certainly got tired and took time away from people to refresh and renew so that he could more effectively minister. That's biblically documented and certainly godly wisdom. But nine times in the gospels it is stated that Jesus "had compassion" on people. My favorite instance is recorded in Mark 6:34. Jesus has been talking and ministering with the disciples so long they've not even had a chance to stop and eat. However, a large crowd (5000+) gathers and in his compassion, he begins teaching them and even feeds them a meal of bread and fish.
I need to have that kind of compassion, especially when I'm tired and hungry! Because I've seen how the focus on "me, myself and I" hurts others. I had a student several years ago whose parents were both incredibly busy and on the road with their careers, and when they did carve out time to spend with him, he never got a vote in what they did. In fact, they usually considered letting him ride with him to their next appointment as "quality time" enough.
Certainly he didn't need to be the center of their universe, but I'll never forget standing in the hallway at school with him one day. The tears formed in my own eyes as he wept, having just learned that his mom had "rescheduled" their afternoon together to include a 2 hour press conference.
The compassion they lacked was the very kind of compassion Jesus demonstrated. Jesus didn't only do those things that caused mutual benefit for himself and others. He willingly placed the needs of others ahead of his own. I don't think it was necessarily because he wanted to, but rather because the compassion that overflowed from his heart dictated self-less actions.
Imagine the impact for the Kingdom if even just once a week, out of compassionate hearts, we said "no" to "me, myself and I" and said "yes" to the needs of someone in our sphere of influence. That's seeking first his kingdom. Let him add "all these things" then, in his way and his time.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34