15-1 Hearts That Bleed
The opposite of love isn’t so much hatred, as indifference. To be indifferent
to the real welfare of our fellows in this world, and of all
our own brethren, is perhaps our most common sin. The Lord taught us that
we should have a sense of urgency in our response to others. The Lord
showed by His example that it is better to meet the hunger of human need
than to keep the letter of Sabbath law (Mk. 2:25,26). His urgency,
God’s urgency, our consequent urgency…all means that
when even Divine principles appear to come into conflict, we are to be
influenced above all by the urgency of others’ need. " Which of you
shall have a son fallen into a well, and will not straightway draw him
up?" (Lk. 14:5 RV). Wells weren’t that wide. Only a small child would
fall down one. We can imagine the tragic situation in the home. "
Benny’s fallen down the well!" . And everyone would go running. They
wouldn’t wait until the Saturday evening. Nor would they worry the slightest
about infringing the letter of the law. And so, the Lord explained, that
little boy was like the sick men and women, sick both physically and spiritually,
whom He saw around Him. There was an urgency which He felt about
them. And so there should be with us too. We can realize that this world
is evil and vain; and yet we can still fail t perceive the tragedy of
it all, and the urgency of our task to save at least some. The Father
of the prodigal told the servants: " Bring forth quickly
the best robe" (Lk. 15:22 RV). The indebted man was told to sit down
quickly and have his debt reduced (Lk. 16:6). There is an urgency
in the mediation of mercy towards others. When Paul thanks God that Titus
has a heart of “earnest care” for the Corinthians, he uses a Greek word
[spoude] which literally means “speed”, and is elsewhere translated
“haste” – as well as “haste” and “business” (2 Cor. 8:16). The heart that
really cares will be characterized by a speedy and quick response, not
a careful weighing up of a situation, nor a resignation of responsibilities
to ponderous committees. In Rom. 1:14,15, Paul speaks of his “debt” to
preach to both “Greeks and Barbarians” as the reason for his planned trip
to Rome- for in that city there was the widest collection of “Greeks and
Barbarians”. And yet he later speaks of our ‘debt’ [Gk.] to love one another
(Rom. 13:8). The debt of love that we feel on reflecting upon our unpayable
debt to the Father and Son is partly an unending ‘debt’ to loving share
the Gospel of grace with others, to forgive the ‘debts’ of others sins
What this world is crying out for are people who really and meaningfully
care. We don’t want a standard reply to our letter or e-mail that asks
for information. People need people who are real and therefore credible.
Not just the same old stock answers. As we survey the tragedy of humanity
around us, hearts must bleed. This alone will make us and our position
about anything attractive to people. Our tendency is only to feel for
those who we consider to have some worth. But God commends His love to
us (as though it needed any commendation) in that He poured out (and still
pours out) His feelings, His passion, the blood of His only Son for those
who have no worth, but are actually the most unworthy.
Hundreds of pages of Old Testament history exemplify this in His attitude
to His wayward children.
Consider the time when after a generation of abusing the God who so loved
them, " the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned:
do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we
pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them,
and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved (Heb. cut down, reaped-
as in harvest) for the misery / grief of Israel. (Jud. 10:15,16). The
Hebrew word translated " misery" is also translated " grief"
. The soul of Almighty God so far away from us grieved for their
grief. Their pain elicited in Him a response, no matter that their pain
was totally their fault.
I once heard a middle class woman say to her child (in that irksome White
Anglo-Saxon Protestant way): " Look at that bad man lying there in
the gutter. He’s been drinking! Silly man, hey!"
. She didn’t want to imagine how that red, contoured face had once been
a sweet baby, a mothers pride and joy; a mischievous little lad at school;
a young man with an ambition to marry a young woman and have a family.
Yes, on one level it was his fault he was in the gutter. But the heart
that bleeds sees the tragedy, the human pain and wastage of it all. The
heart that bleeds cant walk on by. It will realize our limited ability
to judge the total circumstances in any human encounter, but more than
that, it will be hopeful and seeking for Gods glory to be achieved in
the most apparently hopeless of cases. God need not have grieved for the
grief of Israel. It was their fault. But He did, and He eventually
grieved for it to the extent of giving His own son to be done to death.
We began by recalling the Lords story about the little boy who falls down
the well. The legalistic mind would have gone straight to Ex. 21:33: the
man who dug a well and didn’t cover it was responsible for any deaths
arising from it. The story would imply that the father of the child was
the owner of the well. The Lord doesn’t draw the lesson that Its your
own fault for being disobedient to the Law. He focuses instead on the
need to act urgently to save, without maxing out on the issue
of whose fault it was that the tragedy had occurred.