January 19, 2021
When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick (Matthew 14:13-14).
From 14:21 we learn that this crowd numbered at least 5,000 men, not counting the women and children. As stated earlier (yesterday’s Word of Encouragement), not everyone in the crowd was concerned for their spiritual welfare. All kinds of motives reverberated in the heart and spirit of the people. None-the-less, Jesus set aside His personal desire to be alone with His heavenly Father and the disciples to address the needs of the people.
The text tells us that Jesus had ‘compassion’ for them. The word means ‘tender mercy’ or to be moved with sympathy or pity. Once again we see Jesus sacrificing Himself for the needs of others. As Christians, this is both commendable and dangerous. It is commendable because it demonstrates genuine love for others, just as Jesus demonstrated that same love for others.
John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. Romans 13:8, Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 1 John 4:7-8, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
However, sacrificing ourselves for the needs of others can be dangerous. How? When we do not take the time to be alone with God in prayer, meditation, reflection, and personal worship. When we allow others to interrupt the work of the Holy Spirit in us and through us to those who are not needy, i.e. in leading in worship or in a Bible study, in ministering to our own families, in attending conferences and seminars that feed our own mind and spirit. Is this being selfish and ego-centric? No. It is reality. If a lake has fresh water flowing in it and out of it, it is healthy and promotes life. If it has fresh water flowing in but not out, it becomes stagnant and does not promote life. If there is no fresh water flowing in, the lake will dry up and cease to exist.
It is spiritually unhealthy to not minister to the needs of others. It is equally spiritually unhealthy to always minister to the needs of others to the neglect of ministry to self and family. Jesus understood the balance that had to be maintained in His life. We must understand that same balance in our own life.
“Lord Jesus, keep me sensitive to my personal needs as well as to the needs of others You have called me to minister to. Help me maintain a healthy balance in my spiritual and physical, my mental and emotional life so that I will not short change my family, my church, or to hinder Your work in my own spiritual growth and development. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”