Whether you grew up going to church each week, you’re just starting to explore faith, or you’re still not sure what you believe, we all have things we think we know about Jesus—including what made him angry. When we think about what makes someone angry, it can usually be traced back to what they care about. And some of us may believe a common lie about Jesus: that what mattered most to him is that we follow the rules.
The rules aren’t the important part to Jesus—if we read the following story found in Mark 3, we can see that clearly.
Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.
He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! (Mark 3:1-5)
Sometimes it’s easy to see the rules before we see a need. But Jesus makes it known that he didn’t create people to follow his rules—he created the rules to help his people. And when we start to care more about the rules than each other, we’ve missed the point, and we’ve missed an opportunity to exercise compassion.
It’s not always easy to recognize the status of our hearts on a scale of hardened to compassionate, but we can always do a Heart Check. Compare the symptoms below of a hard heart to your own heart right now, and see if you can relate.
When our hearts are hard...
- We hoard
- If we find ourselves hoarding our resources, our time, and our energy in an attempt to set ourselves up for success while not even stopping to think about others, we may be drifting towards a heart that is hardened.
- We're easily offended
- If it doesn’t take much to set us off, and we start looking at everything through a negative lens instead of leaning on the side of grace, we may be losing our compassion.
- We win the point and lose the person
- If winning our point becomes more important than the person that we’re talking to, we’ve lost the opportunity to show compassion towards that person and love them well.
- We judge others
- If our first reaction is to judge others for where they are and compare them to where we are, considering ourselves better than them, our hearts may be hardening.
What does your heart look like right now? Especially in this season, it can feel safer to hold tightly to everything that we have and stick to the “rules.” But God has called us to demonstrate his love to others—whether that’s by offering our time or energy, taking the time to send words of encouragement, or living generously with what we’ve been given. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out ways to demonstrate God’s love this week. And to hear more on this subject, check out the message Keeping the Rules vs. Living with Compassion from our series The Jesus Lie.