by Tony Nester

The Touch of Compassion
Tony Nester
Luke 4:31-41

Call it a day in the life of Jesus. In the morning while at the synagogue in Capernaum he heals a man tormented by a demon. In the afternoon at Simon Peter's home he heals Peter's mother-in-law who was afflicted with a high fever. By evening, with word spreading all through the town, all sorts of people with all kinds of illnesses gathered around Jesus to ask for his healing touch.

We learn from Jesus that God's desire is that we develop open-heartedness toward people in distress. If the Spirit of Jesus in alive in us we will be led to do as he did - bring the compassionate touch of God to people who are hurting. When we become disciples of Jesus he enrolls us in a training program to teach us how to open our hearts to people, and how to extend to them a touch of compassion.

Some people seem to have an open heart toward people in distress, but many of us aren't by nature open-hearted.

Some of you have heard me talk about the time when I got a job working as an orderly in a nursing home. I was assigned to a floor of elderly men who couldn't take care of themselves. It was my job to clean and touch them in ways I never anticipated when I applied for the job. My initial reaction was not open-hearted; it was revulsion.

But I learned. It helped a lot to get to know them as Frank and Herbie and others on down the line. Frank was the one I got to know the best, and when he died I felt a genuine sense of grief and loss. I still remember going to his home to visit his widow. I didn't go as Frank's pastor but as his orderly. God had opened my heart to him and I had been able to offer him in his dying days a touch of compassion. That was Frank's gift to me, and a lesson learned in Christian discipleship.

The longer we have been Christians the more we should be learning about open-heartedness. The longer we are in a church, the more we should be able offer to others a touch of compassion.

Let's ask ourselv ...

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