Have you allowed your upbringing or experiences to prejudice you against a particular group of people? Women? Men? The poor? The rich? Asians? Jews? Black or White?
Prejudice leads to hatred and a lack of compassion toward others. To the contrary, God’s people are to be known for their love and compassion. Surrendering your life to God means recognizing and relinquishing your prejudices.
Take a look in the Bible at Jonah. He hated the people of Nineveh for their cruelty toward his people, the Israelites. He would’ve loved to have gone to Nineveh and declare God’s judgment against them. But God told Jonah to go and warn them of destruction so they might avoid God’s wrath. Jonah wanted no part in this mission of mercy. He tried to run away, but God wouldn’t have it. When Jonah reluctantly obeyed and preached to the Ninevites, they changed their ways. And not surprisingly, Jonah was upset at God’s mercy on the Ninevites.
God practically had to force Jonah to let go of his prejudice and hatred. This was necessary so he could share God’s mercy with the people he hated. Your spiritual transformation will be stunted until you let go of your prejudices toward any people group. Seeing your own prejudices doesn’t come easy. You need to ask God and those close to you to help you see areas of prejudice in your life. Once you see them, confess them and ask God to change your heart.
Luke was one of the most prolific writers of the New Testament. He gave a detailed account of the life of Jesus in his Gospel and a description of the early church in the book of Acts.
Luke was also a doctor, and his writing reveals his great compassion for people. Even his efforts to write his two books were motivated by a concern to help a friend grow in faith. His concern for the spiritual health of others was matched by his concern for their physical well-being. Throughout his books he made a point to notice the physical suffering of people and the care that those people received. He recounted how Jesus and his apostles again and again brought spiritual and physical healing into hurting and broken lives. And he noticed how Jesus paid special attention to the helpless in society. Jesus made a special point of helping outcasts, prostitutes, and hated tax collectors. Luke’s compassionate heart led him to emphasize the compassion of Jesus for those rejected by society.
Luke is a man who didn’t aspire to greatness or try to grab the spotlight. His goal in life was to serve and care for others. We need men like Luke in our lives, don’t we? Perhaps even more, however, we need to learn how we can become instruments of healing in the lives of the people around us. Shed that tough exterior, friend, and share the compassion of Christ today.
What words would your friends or family use to describe you? Jesus referred to two brothers’James and John’as Sons of Thunder. Why? We’re given a glimpse of their fiery personalities in the Bible. After some people rejected them, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the village. Jesus rebuked them for their impulse to retaliate.
Yet that’s not the end of their story. Jesus worked in these brothers’ lives so that they became known for love and forgiveness.
Though the two brothers had once been ambitious for their own personal gain, they became ambitious to share God’s love with others. The brothers discovered that when you understand and experience God’s love, you are free to live and grow. And as you grow and share with others, you be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.
Can you relate to the anger and selfish ambition of these men? If so, be encouraged by God’s work in their lives. He wants to do the same in you!