Put Yourself in Their Place (2) - More Grace, Please
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
If we are going to make a difference in the lives of others for God, we are going to have to put ourselves in their place every now and then and realize that they are dealing with issues just as we are dealing with our own issues.
There are times when we quickly put ourselves in the place of others.
Suppose you were going down the street and saw a person in the driver’s seat of a parked car looking asleep or unconscious. You also saw smoke and flames starting to come from under the hood of the car. What would you do? Would you try to get the person’s attention? Would you try to help the person out of the car?
Or would you say, “If they wanted my help, they would ask.”
Many of us would risk our own safety for a total stranger to try to alert that person of the danger that surrounds them. We know what their future is going to be if they do not act.
One of the reasons that Jesus came into the world was to make people aware of the danger that surrounds them on a spiritual level. Jesus said in John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” In Matthew 9:35-38, we are told that Jesus ministered to the hurting and needy everywhere he went because he had compassion on them.
One of the things Jesus does is put himself in our place. Although he is completely holy, he does not look at us and say, “You really don’t measure up. You have issues on top of issues. Come back and talk to me after you’ve gotten yourself a little more together.” When Jesus puts himself in our place, he already knows that we have issues, but he also knows that we cannot do very much on our own about our issues.
Is there anybody besides me that has promised yourself and God, “I’ll never do that again,” and even though you meant it at the time, you still did it again? There is a nature in all of us that keeps us from being able to keep our promises to do better and to try harder. That nature is called sin, and it is determined to mess up our lives. We can have the best of plans for our future, but just one sin can change it all. It has nothing to do with God punishing us or God trying to teach us some lesson. It is simply the law of planting and harvesting: We are getting the consequence (harvest) of our behavior (planting).
Matthew 9:35-38 tells us that Jesus went to the people and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus immediately put himself in their place to see what the world was like from their perspective. What was it that they were experiencing? What was it they were going through? Jesus knew if he was going to make a difference he was going to have to go to the people.
It would be nice if people came to the church to ask, “What answers do you have for me?”
But most people are not going to come. Most people have no idea of the answers the church has for them. Most people do not think we have anything to say that could help them out. A lot of people think they have people problems, when what they really are facing is a sin problem. There are other people who recognize there is a sin problem, but they think the sin is completely in somebody else. They think, “If only that person would change….” However, another person’s change has little to do with the sin in their own heart. The only place that deals with the sin problem is the church. We are the ones to whom Jesus is going to give help.
When Jesus saw the people, he was moved with compassion. Jesus wants to help everybody. But he will only help those who want to be helped.
This word “compassion” (used in passages like Matthew 9:35-38) describes the deep, inner mercy of God. Do you want to experience more of God’s mercy? Do you know it was not your great wisdom that brought you to where you are today? It was God’s mercy. The very fact that you got saved is evidence of God’s mercy. God put himself in your place, saw what you needed, and gave it to you. If you put yourself in the place of others, you’d know they need God’s mercy as well.
When Jesus looked at the crowd, he did not see people who had it altogether.
One of the greatest lies we have believed from the devil when we look at other people is that they have it altogether. We convince ourselves that they really do not need Jesus. So, we are like the person who sees the person in the burning car I mentioned earlier, but goes on about his or her business thinking, “They really do not need my help. Somebody else will come along if they need help later.” Jesus saw the people as being harassed and helpless. Have you ever been harassed by life? Have you experienced that feeling of helplessness when it seems every time you get past one problem, another one comes along? Or maybe you have experienced that terrible cycle of thinking you have an issue worked out only to find that it comes back again to trouble you. You thought your job was secure, and yet here you are back on the unemployment line. You thought the argument was over, but here they come, bringing back up the same mess all over again. Life is a time of harassment and everybody is being harassed by something in life. God uses those harassments to show us we are not “all that,” and we are not God. Harassment comes to reveal our need for God. The world would have us believe that certain people are immune to harassment because of their money, their fame, their power, or their family. I can tell you right now, even the rich, powerful, and famous people are going to go through difficulties just as you do. They will also share some good times. Their money and their fame will not allow them to escape from the harassment of life.
When we discover what people are being harassed by, then we can talk to them about how God can work in that situation. People need to see God as being relevant to their situation before they will be open to hearing about God’s offer of salvation. We can point them to the God who is excellent in all things.
We can tell them from our own, personal stories how we found that there is no one greater than Jesus.
Jesus saw the people as helpless and harassed as sheep without a shepherd. Sheep without a shepherd are defenseless. All they can do is run. When a lion or a wolf comes, sheep are no match for the battle. No sheep has ever bitten a lion to death. Satan comes as a roaring lion. So many of us have been beaten up by the devil because we try to charge him in our strength instead of running to the Shepherd. There is only one Shepherd to run to that can make a difference. The world has its shepherds of alcohol, drugs, money, and fame, but these things do not change anyone’s heart in positive or productive ways. These things do not make God more real. These things do not offer a lasting salvation. If you put yourself in the place of the unsaved people all around us and really saw where they were putting their hope, you’d want them to know there is a Savior who has come to give them healing and life. Jesus showed them compassion by doing four things. First, he went to them where they were. Second, he taught them the truth about life and how disappointed life apart from God can leave you feeling. Third, he preached the gospel of the kingdom to them, which means he offered them an invitation to become a part of the family of God. He let them know that God was there to receive them if they were willing to come. Fourth, he healed every sickness and disease that was among them. There is nothing in this world greater than the power of God. The only way to get in touch with that power is to come into relationship with Jesus Christ. There are so many people we encounter that do not know the great shepherd Jesus even exists. Jesus says, “There are many people who are ready to know the truth, but there are not enough people who already know the truth who are willing to go and tell them.” Will you go into the fields for a harvest? One of the best kept secrets in Reynoldsburg is what God is doing in the lives of people here at Eastgate and all this church offers to those who are a part of it. It’s a shame we are keeping this secret to ourselves. We must allow God to move us to the place that when we encounter people who are being harassed by sin that we’re willing to tell them, “I know a Shepherd who can make a difference for you. His name is Jesus.”
You know what Jesus means to you.
You know you wouldn’t be what you are today without Jesus.
Why not put yourself in their place? If you were them, don’t you think you would want to know if there was help for your situation?
We’ve got to love Jesus enough to give Him to others.