A Surprising Aspect of Compassion

When you think about compassion, what comes to mind?

A surprising aspect is in confrontation. Helping the hurting and broken, yes, but also confronting the source and protecting others is also compassionate. Jesus did it, as did Paul, John, etc.

What’s compassionate confrontation like?

It can be telling a hard truth to someone before they go off the rails like Jesus did with Peter (Matt 16:23). Or after they went off the rails like Paul had to do with Peter (Galatians 2:11-21). Poor Peter.

You have to prepared for it. It takes humility and cannot be done with self-righteousness or self-serving condemnation. That means we can’t look forward to it; it has to pain us that it comes to this.

In a confrontation, it’s a spiritual battle within and without. Inside, before you can confront, you have to be aware of your own evil (Matt 7:3-5) and be able to be confronted with it. This self-confrontation and awareness of your own darkness lets you approach them on even ground, and tell them to stop. It makes your ‘no’ a humble ‘no’.

Why confront then?

James 5:19-20 calls for us to bring Christians that are wandering back. If you care for someone, you don’t continue to let them destroy themselves and their lives without saying something.

How do I confront then?

There’s a way to do it outlined in Matthew 18:15-17. A note though, this is about church discipline, I’m using it as a general pattern. First, you confront alone, not broadcasting it online or publically. Point out the problem, just the two of you.

If it doesn’t work, bring two or three impartial witnesses the next time. Why? The next step involves repercussions. In church discipline (rarely seen these days), the next step is to bring it to the church, and when the church approaches them, and they refuse to change, then they’ll be excommunicated. No longer seen as a Christian.

What if they’re not a believer?

That’s where the third step gets hard. It’s where you have to say, ‘I love you, but I won’t be around as long as you continue in this way.’

Isn’t that harsh?

There’s a redemptive quality to it, a chance to come back with conditions. In the Corinth church, a man was having sex with his stepmother. Paul told them to expel him, cutting him off from the aid of church (1 Cor. 5:1-5).

Why?

So he can hit rock bottom, and then want to come back. Which he did. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 tells us this, along with the call to forgive, comfort, and reaffirm their love for him. As should we.

In a compassionate confrontation, it should be with the goal of reconciliation of the relationship and redemption of the person. That last part comes from Christ if they truly want to be saved from their self-destructive and harmful behaviors.

What An Ancient Jew Can Teach You About Relationships

We’re studying Esther in church, as a church. We were given a study guide so we can all go in-depth. This book is fascinating, especially when you consider the history. The Xerxes in Esther is the same one who faced the Spartan King Leonidas at Thermopylae.

Meet Mordecai and Esther

In chapter two we meet a pair of cousins, Mordecai and Esther. He adopted her after her parents died. When Xerxes took her into his harem, we discover in Esther 2:11 how much Mordecai cared for her.

Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

He kept in touch. His level of concern apparent by how often he was checking on her emotional state and circumstances.

Lessons From Mordecai

The first lesson is to stay in touch with who you care for. The internet makes it easier for long-distance relationships or keeping up with the day-to-day of friends and family. Texting, too, is convenient; it just sits there until looked at.

However, that only gives us part of the story. We usually put our best face forward on Facebook and hide our struggles.

This brings us to our second and third lessons, check on their emotional and spiritual states, and know what’s going on in their lives. 

Mordecai kept in touch with Esther, checking on her often. He wanted to know what was happening, and how she felt about it. To sum up the lessons, stay in touch with who you care for by staying involved in their lives and how they’re handling it. Bottom line: relationships matter.

Retaliation and Love; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.

Did Jesus really just challenge an ancient rule?

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

This is a widely known principle of equal justice that he’s challenging, though only in Israel does it apply across class lines. Social standing can’t protect you, even a king can be punished…

I thought for a moment…if anyone was brave enough…

Not only that, Jesus challenged fighting for your honor. He knows it is an insult to be backhanded across the face. You can actually take someone to court for it.

Yet Jesus is saying don’t retaliate…

Jesus had paused to let it sink in, then continued, “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

“My coat!” a disciple exclaimed.

The Law says a creditor couldn’t legally take your coat, it may be all someone has. I’m not sure if it’s hyperbole, Jesus using an extreme to instruct us to cooperate above and beyond.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Seriously…when a Roman soldier makes me lug his junk one mile, Jesus wants me to carry it another mile? They’re invaders, an occupying army! He wants us to voluntarily comply, why?

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Oh…hating your enemy did come from a few of King David’s Psalms according to a few Jewish groups. Loving my neighbor came straight from Leviticus.

Nonresistance wasn’t unheard of, some saying that if something that can be taken away, it didn’t matter. Yet, Jesus is going deeper, telling me to love my enemies so I can follow God’s example.

Even tax collectors and Gentiles, unclean as they are, do good for those connected to them. Jesus wants us to be and do more than they. To be perfect as God is perfect. No small thing…

Matthew 5:38-48
Exodus 22:26-27
Leviticus 19:18