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Unforgiveness and Other Barriers to Compassion

Catherine Brown



"What then shall we say: Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." Romans 9:14-16

In today's study I would like to examine some of the things that might prevent us from being compassionate, and, in acknowledging them, we will discover how to overcome the things that hold us back from moving in God's mercy. These may include such obstructions as unwillingness, unbelief, fear of failure, and weariness.


"When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, 'See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." Matthew 8:1-4

Jesus clearly demonstrates through His loving compassion to the leper that He is (1) WILLING to heal, (2) ABLE to heal, (3) and the result of Christ's compassion is a healing miracle!

If we will only see and believe the fundamental truth in these three points from Scripture, we can lay our unbelief, fear of failure, and weariness at the feet of Christ and trust that Jesus is the healer and that HIS COMPASSION IS ALWAYS EFFECTIVE AND ETERNALLY PRESENT. What a liberating thought! We are not to strive to produce compassion. We simply position ourselves in the mercy of God and, by faith, surrender as His power and miracles flow to those in need.


"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

"'But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

"'Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailor to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

"'This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.'" Matthew 18:21-35

These are strong and striking words from Christ, which should impel us to examine our hearts honestly before the Lord and allow him to search us for any trace of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness chokes the breath of God in us. It binds us spiritually and we will not be able to move in God's compassion if we are thus ensnared. If we hold unforgiveness in our hearts towards another, we will not seek Father's heart for that individual and, in so doing, we demonstrate unwillingness and unbelief. Jesus wants us to receive compassion and He also wishes to teach us to show compassion to others without pride or prejudice. If your heart is hard today, allow Jesus to minister His grace to you and repent for your unforgiveness.

Compassion is God's manna in this hour to the church. A heavenly feast of the Bread of Heaven, upon which our thirsty souls may feed and be satisfied and through which we might serve others: "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8


Jesus shows compassion to the sick, the afflicted, the wounded, the weary, the lost, the broken hearted, the bereaved, the poor, the starving (physically, spiritually, emotionally), the prodigals, the sinners (those in need of salvation), the lonely, the persecuted, the devastated, all those in need, the hurting, the abused, the marginalized, the harassed, the helpless, those needing deliverance...the list is endless. His compassion resulted in many miracles: healing, comfort, provision, salvation, deliverance, and resurrections to name but a few. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the prodigals return home, the hungry are fed, the dead are raised - Christ's compassion transforms lives and communities in astonishing, undeniable ways.


"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity (compassion) on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17,18

Our challenge today is to respond to Christ's compassion in our daily walk with Him; to be open and willing vessels through which our Master may pour out His miracle-working power and compassion. May we know a fresh wave of grace on our lives today to believe that Jesus entrusts this wonderful gift to us, His bride, and may we be ever faithful in our stewardship of His mercy and compassion.


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