True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.
Many believers are familiar with the prophecy of Micah if for no other reason than this famous verse about acting with compassion:
Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
But Micah is only signifying what God had repeatedly told Israel over and over. Notice how Micah says, “He has shown you…” This is not something that God had done in a corner somewhere distant; no, God had repeatedly told them how he desired their hearts to be right and to demonstrate compassion with others in all things, providing this justice and mercy in tangible ways.
Through Isaiah, he warned them of the impending judgment for their failure to learn that lesson.
Isaiah 1:16-17: “Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless. Plead for the widow.””
Through Zechariah, he emphasized how there should be no evil in the heart, no falsity in the words out of the mouth in the carrying out of his commands.
- Zechariah 7:9-10: ““Thus has Yahweh of Armies spoken, saying, Execute true judgment, and show kindness and compassion every man to his brother. Don’t oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the foreigner, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.’”
- Zechariah 8:16-17: “These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor. Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,” says Yahweh.”
This repeated injunction of focusing on the heart is emphasized in the teaching of Yeshua and his disciples, as well.
Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”
Most importantly, Yeshua emphasized how the basis of the Kingdom of God, and the righteous actions of the heart, were rooted in a sincere, genuine, and complete love for Yahweh. This was the first and greatest commandment which would lead to the second most important commandment: to love others.
Matthew 22:37-39 – He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The failure of the religious leaders to exemplify true and genuine compassion was also the condemnation Yeshua pronounced against them, using the same words of Isaiah:
Matthew 15:8 – “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
These compassionate actions are at the very center of the message of the Bible, and the Yeshua’s words in the Sermon on the Mount simply clarify something that God had been saying all along: the goal of all of Torah, or God’s instruction, is loving one another genuinely from the heart, not out of religious obligation. This is the message he taught his disciples: that true love for God causes us to truly love others. This was the message that the disciples sought to distill to those under their care and direction, as well:
- Romans 8:28 – “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God…”
- 1 Corinthians 2:9 – “But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him.”
- 1 Corinthians 16:14 – “Do everything in love.”
- 1 Timothy 1:5: “but the goal of this command is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith…”
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