Compassion and Acceptance
By Berry Kercheville
“Did you see what he did?”
“Oh, I know. I can’t believe he did that in church!”
“And did you notice that new couple and how she was dressed?”
“Yes, it is terrible. Someone ought to talk to her. We don’t need that around here.
“Oh, and I have to say, I’m fed up with crying kids, especially during the Lord’s Supper.”
“Isn’t it the case! When our kids were young, we kept them quiet!”
If you are like me, you have said one of the above statements, or at least heard it said. It is truly embarrassing that we can so easily judge others instead of seeing what is really important to the Lord: a soul is seeking him.
Notice Jesus’ reaction when he looked out on a sinful crowd:
“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.’” (Matthew 9:36–38)
When I think about the judgmental comments I’ve made and comments I have heard others make, I remember Jesus’ attitude toward a lost world. Were tax collectors and sinners terrible people? They certainly were. And that is why Jesus dined with them and was compassionate toward them. Those who are sick need a physician, Jesus said. The people around us and the people who visit us from our community are very often “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Just like us, they are typically blind to their own flaws and sins.
What the Lord needs from us is laborers who will go into the harvest, not judgmental Christians who like Simon the Pharisee are disgusted by the sinfulness of those seeking the Lord (Luke 7:36-51). Unfortunately, we do not just censure the sinfulness of others, we are often even critical of people just because they look or act differently than what we are accustomed, or they don’t know the unwritten rules for our worship.
Yes, that person didn’t do what you or I would have done, etc. etc. etc. Would you rather they didn’t come? Would you rather they weren’t saved? Is it so painful that you cannot rejoice over a prodigal who is trying to return home? After all, few can be as perfect as us!