Today’s Reading: Matthew 8
Her name was Agnes and she was from Albania. In 1928, at age eighteen, she went to Ireland and became a nun. Almost twenty years later, in 1946, she received what she described as a call within the call. As she was riding on a train, her heart heard the Lord tell her to help the most rejected people in society, the poorest of the poor—the throw-away people of Calcutta, India.
It took her two years of fighting through the bureaucratic red tape to pursue that call. But she remained committed, and in 1950, Agnes Bojaxhiu founded the Missionaries of Charity. Agnes Bojaxhiu, of course, is Mother Teresa.
Discussing that call within a call, she stated, “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are—in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people, who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society—completely forgotten, completely left alone. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”
We just finished reading the greatest sermon ever preached by the greatest preacher—Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7). Now we turn our attention to chapter 8. What interests me is not just the sermon, but what took place the day after the sermon—what we learn about in today’s reading of chapter 8.
This is when the crowd shrinks to the individual. The audience now has a name. And we see it immediately in Matthew 8:1-2 (MSG): “Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared.”
Life just got real. The worst disease came after the greatest sermon. You know what I’m talking about. After the singing and the preaching, there is debt, marriage problems, addictions, cancer, diabetes, divorce, and abuse.
Chapter 8 is all about what happens on Monday—after the great and inspiring Sunday morning worship service. Chapter 8 is where there is no stage, no music, but people with a lot of problems who need help. Chapter 8 is about a lot of people, and all of them have an issue. And Jesus met every one—cleansing, healing, deliverance, words of truth.
Think about this with me:
• Chapters 5–7 is Sunday at church service
• Chapter 8 is Monday through Saturday
• Chapter 5–7 is about interacting with God
• Chapter 8 is about how we interact with people
No one did it better than Jesus:
• Chapters 5–7, He is the preacher-teacher
• Chapter 8, He is the doctor
In chapter 8, His Monday included four encounters:
• a leper
• a Roman captain with a paralyzed staff member
• His disciple Peter’s sick mother-in-law stuck in bed with a fever
• two graveyard demoniacs who were causing havoc in town
But this is important to notice: Jesus had compassion and healed them. The key word with Jesus, and when He sees someone in need, is compassion. To know the Bible, to know how to sing Christian songs, is important, but that doesn’t translate into making other people’s lives better when we meet them in a tragedy.
You can’t be compassionate without people. Compassion needs people to sacrifice for. No one is compassionate alone. Our Calcuttas are right next to us. And they need our compassion.
It’s about touching your city, your community, your neighbors, your family and friends.
Every one of us has three resources to show compassion: time, treasure, and talents.
Time: The Bible says, “To redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16, KJV). To “redeem” it means to see it as valuable and get the best bang for your buck. The New American Standard Bible translates it as making the most of our time, using it the best way we can.
Examine what you give your time to. Does it show others compassion? I heard someone once say, “You can see the priorities of a person’s life by two documents: a checkbook and a calendar.” Your time reveals your priorities.
Treasure: How you spend your money also reveals your priorities. Do you spend your money in compassionate ways? For instance, do you tithe regularly to the work of God’s Kingdom? Tithing is a thank-you note to God for entrusting you with 90 percent of God’s 100 percent. When we give to God, we are just taking our hands off what He already owns. Give to God what’s right, not what’s left. As Martin Luther once said, “I have tried to keep things in my hands and lost them all, but what I have given into God’s hands I still possess.”
Talents: What is your talent? You have at least one—everybody does. The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:10: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” You show compassion by using your talent well.
Jesus told a parable of those who were given talents (see Matthew 25). When they used them, they produced more with what they had. Your talent produces something more.
Your gift is your obligation to others. So if everyone has a gift, then everyone is to impact someone. You included. No exceptions. And it also surrounds using your gift for others.
Whether your gifting is loving people, helping people, serving people, giving to people, bringing people to church . . . it’s always about people. That’s how you show compassion. By meeting their needs.
Eight is Monday. Where is your Calcutta? Where does life get real for you? How might you show compassion during your Monday? That is today’s challenge.