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The Caring Christ

August 31st, 2012

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Matthew 8:16-17

Every act that Christ did came from His character and revealed a part of His personality. Who is Christ? What type of Person was He and is He today? All we need to do is to look at His actions, for they speak as loudly as His words.

Christ was no showman, no mere pretender, using slight of hand tricks to impress the multitudes for self-serving purposes. He was simply being Himself, reaching out to those who hurt. James S. Stewart wrote these words,

When Jesus laid his hands upon a leper’s sores, it was not with an eye to effect, any more than his taking the children into his arms had an eye to the effect on the spectators. Any such idea of Jesus trying to produce a favorable impression is horrible. It would give us an unnatural Christ. No. Jesus carried the lambs in his bosom because he loved them – just that – and Jesus touched the leper’s sores because he pitied him with all his heart. The ruling motive of the mighty works of Jesus was always and everywhere compassion.[1]

The miracles of Christ invite us to trust in Him – we would expect nothing less from the true Savior than great works like these – but they were not showmanship, and they are not the only witness to His Messiahship. Our faith in Him is based on our inner acceptance of the witness of His Spirit, and because we have believed along these lines we have a different view of the miracles: we have no trouble believing that they truly happened just as the Scripture said. But to our minds and to our hearts the miracles do not merely show the raw power of Christ – they reveal His heart as well.

As it is true with sickness, so it is true to every other problem we have on this earth – depression, conflict, worry, anxiety, injustice, et al. There can never be a problem we experience that does not touch the heart of the Savior. When we think no one else cares, that all have forgotten us, that even the angels themselves have turned their attention elsewhere – when we feel most lonely then we must claim in faith these precious promises of the Savior’s compassion.

His miracles also reveal that sickness and pain and trouble are not intended to remain forever. The day will come when they will be no more, when painful loneliness, emotional scars, insecurities, as well as every form of physical sickness will be removed from us forever.

When we talk to the Savior in prayer, we address someone all powerful who has us on His heart, who cares more about our troubles and problems than we could ever imagine. Come to Him confidently, quickly, constantly, and trustingly. Leave your anxiety in His hands, casting all your cares upon Him because He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7).

If He cares so much, the skeptic may ask, then why doesn’t He cure all our diseases? I believe the answer is that His work of redemption is deep, not shallow, intentional, and not random. The sin problems of the world are not easily or simply resolved, and even its legacy in our own lives – whether we mean the physical or emotional aspects of our personality – runs deep. In His time and in His way He will make all things right, but He must make them new first. The foundation of human society is corrupted and if we lose patience with His repair work it is because we do not grasp the seriousness of our problem as He does. We want changes on the surface where we can see, but He sees the greater need beneath. We want it done quickly and cheaply, but as the Master Builder He knows that it must be done thoroughly and that it will be costly.

We can trust His heart just as we can trust His plan – as deep as His knowledge goes, so just as deep goes His compassion for us. Rest in the reality of His love for you. Grasping this truth by faith gives us a taste of the future, when His goodness and love for us will be expressed without measure.

[1] James S. Stewart, The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ, p. 92

Evening Devotionals , ,

Controlling Our Tongues

August 29th, 2012

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back… Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 29:11, 20

The purpose of Proverbs is to teach us how to live a wise and moral life in a fallen world. There are dangers on both sides of any path we take, and dangers from within our own hearts as well. And we must know how to live wisely and prudently. It is a miracle of God’s grace and a sign of His knowledge that regardless of how fallen this world becomes, God still has advice for us on how to live.

We would be tempted to think the opposite, that the world is so fallen that only a devil really knows how to live here. But God insists on the opposite, that those who walk in the Spirit will know more about how to navigate the seas of moral failure than the most experienced in the world’s ways, and He will teach us to do it with grace and compassion, offering hope to the fallen and salvation for those who are convicted of sin and convinced that Christ is the answer. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,” rather delights in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:1-2).

God’s advice is for us to be aware that our emotions may rage within, and that there will be moments when we must hold back our words. A wise person will be careful with what he says, aware that the simplest phrase uttered in anger or out of hurt may result in more anger and hurt. Fear also, another strong emotion, can provoke more fear. We have often been told that we need to let it out, not hold it in, that we need to express our feelings rather than bottle them up, for otherwise they may explode one day and do more damage. There may be an element of truth in this perspective, but there are better ways of self expression than to lambast those around us with rage and fear.

Prayer is given for a means of expression of our fears and emotions to God. The Christian fellowship is also a means by which we can share life with others. Our pride prevents us from being honest with our brothers and sisters, and we do bottle up our emotions needlessly. Humility, honesty, winsome graciousness, the ability to laugh at ourselves, and especially faith in the goodness and grace of God (confidence), along with a desire for righteousness – these traits help us to find people with whom we can share our lives.

It is possible that someone may be very knowledgeable, may know the best answers in difficult circumstances, and may be steeped in experience and practical wisdom, yet if he is unable to bridle his tongue, if he is unable to know when to speak and when to be silent, all of this knowledge may never be appropriately appreciated. “Though I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love I am like a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). People do not normally care how much we know, until they know how much we care.

The wisest among us has learned to settle his deepest fears and emotions in prayer and in the confidential community with fellow Christians. When we cannot pray through a matter, we should have the humility to go to our trusted Christian friend and talk through the issue and pray together about the matter. The truly disciplined believer is also a very humble person, and it is the humble people the Lord loves to exalt.

Evening Devotionals , , ,