What is our motivation?

Listen to the sermon.

TEXT:  Matthew 9:35-10:8
TITLE:  “He had compassion”
THESIS: Compassion becomes our motivation for all we do.


  • In evangelical Baptist circles in Kansas, where I spent 30 years, sending out workers into the harvest field always referred to evangelism. And evangelism meant working to “get people saved,” urging them to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior so they would know they were going to heaven when they died.
  • However … none of that is in this text. – Let’s talk about what IS here and what it means for us.


  • The context …. Jesus went through the towns and villages of Galilee, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. … Evangelism is sharing the “evangel” – the good news of the kingdom. (But what is that?)
  • Jesus’ response to the people …. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. … Compassion describes Jesus’ heart, his motivation in all he did – whether crowds milling around like sheep (or people ) seemingly “lost,” harassed and helpless – or whether individual people like the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery and the man born blind and the man crippled from birth.
  • Jesus’ response to the disciples (followers) … Pray for God to provide enough “workers” – and you go first. ..Jesus gave his disciples authority to set people free and sent them out to proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’… And he said: “Freely you have received; freely give.” … As followers of Jesus, we have the same call today – to go out with compassion and authority, as Jesus did – to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and to set people free.


  • Our world’s need for compassion has led to a number of international efforts – Compassion International, Circles of Compassion, and Charter for Compassion. – In their words: The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.”
  • In our present moment – in the midst of a pandemic and facing the reality of systemic racism and injustice for people of color – compassion must come from deep within us. We must have the same compassion for people that Jesus had – to see how they need to be healed and to be set free.
  • Back to what the good news of the kingdom means … It’s not about heaven beyond this world. It is about this world! This life. Today and tomorrow – the past, present, and future. … The kingdom of God is where God’s will is being done, where “not Caesar, but Jesus, is Lord.” – The gospel is about freedom and healing, about justice and life. And love – compassion – for all people fills our hearts and minds and becomes our motivation for all we do.
  • The good news is that we can be free – we can be healed – we can experience justice and be fully alive – we can live with compassion for all people and know the love of God for the world.
  • I invite you today – open your eyes and heart to the world around you – have compassion for people (both individually and in groups), especially when they seem harassed or even helpless – and go out with the authority of the Spirit to proclaim that they can be set free and experience justice and know the love of God. This is the kingdom. These are the followers of Jesus.



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Can you imagine a world of compassion and justice? How do we replace fear with hope for a better world? What can we do every day to build such a world? ... These questions are at the heart of what I write about. Follow my blog. Join Imagine - a learning community working for a better world. Let's do it together.

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