This episode narrated by Maj Gen Rick Martin, USAF (Ret.)
Servant leaders who seek to minister to all people groups must do so with a spirit of compassion
Today’s Scripture reading comes from Luke 9:54, quoting from the New King James Version:
“And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’”
There are few things in life I know for certain. I can be wrong; I am subject to make mistakes. I cannot help but wonder about James and John when they cited Elijah’s act of calling down fire from heaven to destroy the messengers from Samaria. Apparently, they saw some parallels between the Old Testament Samaritan king Ahaziah’s response to the man of God (Elijah) and the Samaritans who did not welcome Jesus at His arrival. James and John perhaps succumbed to a mistaken understanding of Jesus’ purpose.
Sometimes, we respond from ignorance either through lack of compassion or failure to grasp the big picture. James and John’s compassionless desire to call fire down from heaven on a people, who would later welcome Jesus and the gospel into their borders, demonstrates not only a lack of compassion, but also insensitivity to Jesus’ bigger purpose. Jesus’ response to James and John’s desire to rain down death and destruction gives us the Master’s leadership attitude, one which we should emulate in response to personal rejection.
Servant leaders who seek to minister to all people groups must do so with a spirit of compassion. The compassionate Christian leader would do well to strive to express the heart of Christ. Controlled and sparingly used, anger or aggression might be an appropriate response to quell selfish, sinful acts. However, the decision to turn from hot emotions as a response to rejection and insensitivity and to “shake the dust off your feet,” can lead one to turn to Christ for His big picture perspective. This demonstrates the better part of spiritual valor.
Jesus said He “did not come to destroy lives but to save them.” If one’s tendency is to write people off when there is disagreement, might this have the same effect as “commanding fire” or wishing another dead, spiritually dead that is. The gospel message is for all people and the servant leader does not withhold the message at the first sign of personal rejection.
Points to Ponder
Over the next week, here are 3 points to ponder during your personal time of reflection or with a small group or mentor.
Consider this Spirit directed response to tough circumstances, resistance, or rejection:
- First, Pray. Ask God for His perspective and for a compassionate spirit when dealing with difficult people. Desire to know the heart of Christ when emotions would evoke an angry, fleshly response.
- Second, Practice. Exercise patience with others, especially those who seem insensitive or ignorant to spiritual matters. Patience manifests compassion and replaces anger and aggression with gentleness and sincere concern.
- Third, Picture. Focus on the big picture. Appreciate the fact that God has a far larger perspective and plan than we sometimes comprehend. Strive to be in sync with God. It is not His desire that any should perish.