The Unrecognized Compassion
As we go into the Winter Olympic Games and as we edge closer to the Super Bowl, I want us to pause for a moment as we watch these events. Every one of the athletes, both male and female, have prepared for years on end to be at the top of their field. And in the end, there is recognition, whether be a Lombardi Trophy or a medal. There will be those who will be the cover of Sports Illustrated or Time magazine. They will be all over every news outlet. Most of these athletes feel the weight of representing a city or a nation.
I can remember going to a Steelers and Bears game with Wyatt on a Sunday night. Jay Cutler and the Bears were having a decent season and the Steelers were struggling. After the third quarter, Chicago was way ahead and so we decided to head back to the truck. As we are leaving, almost every Steeler fan was irate and were shouting to fire then offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians. His “no risk it, no biscuit” style of offense just didn’t fly in Pittsburgh. But he did build great relationships with all his players. In fact, Ben Roethlisberger’s backup was Byron Leftwich who is now the offensive coordinator for Arians in Tampa Bay.
I think these areas point towards an issue within people in a society. We want to be entertained. However, if those who entertain us fall short, we get vocally upset. The same can be said about the church, sadly. When things are going well, almost everyone within the local community knows, but when things are going bad, well, almost everybody knows that too. Sometimes church’s try too hard. They spend so much energy to be known. When they do any type of ministry it is broadcast on TV, online, or in the newspaper. The sad thing is that the portion of scripture today speaks against this in two direct ways.
Matthew 6:1–4 (NIV): 6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4 Greek NT Προσέχετε τὴν ἐλεημοσύνην ὐμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μή γε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. (2) ῞Οταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην, μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου, ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς ῥύμαις, ὅπως δοξασθῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσι τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν. (3) σοῦ δὲ ποιοῦντος ἐλεημοσύνην μὴ γνώτω ἡ ἀριστερά σου τί ποιεῖ ἡ δεξιά σου, (4) ὅπως ᾖ σου ἡ ἐλεημοσύνη ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ, καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι ἐν τῷ
̓λεημοσύνη (el-eh-ay-mos-oo’-nay)- compassionateness (as exercised towards the poor)
1. Don’t publicly broadcast your compassion or your giving record.
a. We should do good things not for public recognition.
b. We should do things in secret so not to unintentionally embarrass someone who needs help.
c. We should be compassionate because God has blessed us.
d. Learn to be a confidant towards someone who needs help.
2. Compassion, in this sense as Jesus’ instructs, is one on one (verse 3). While I hope that the church body of believers are to be, in total, compassionate, this type of compassion in not don corporately, but individually.
a. One on one ministry
b. The right hand (someone who is also a follower of Jesus) does not know what the left hand (you) are doing in the situation you are helping in. Why? God placed that person into your life with a purpose in mind. Don’t miss the fulness of a blessing that God intended, sharing it with someone else. (Think Abraham and Lot)
c. Being that humanity struggles with judging people, the fewer involved the better until the person you are helping gets to the place where they want to share their story themselves.