We live in a world where we are bombarded by people trying to motivate us through our emotions. We read books, watch romantic movies, listen to the news, and watch commercials; often designed with one question in mind, ‘how can we move people?’ Companies know that when you move people’s emotions, it motivates them to act, buy and enjoy things more. Knowing that we can easily be motivated by emotions, Christians face a real challenge of knowing which emotions we should allow to motivate us.
Moved by the Wrong Emotion
I believe that, as the Body of Christ, we have at times allowed ourselves to be ‘motivated’ by the wrong emotions, and have perhaps hurt our reputation because of it. In many ways, the most deadly of these has been when the Church has been moved by anger and fear. It may have been a righteous anger and a genuine fear for the future of our country/church, but I honestly believe that our public actions should never be motivated by such emotions.
Surely ‘anger/fear motivated actions’ can only provoke a similar response from the world we live in. John the Baptist’s death shows this; after speaking out about Herod’s sin/adultery, He ignited their anger and consequently he was arrested and eventually beheaded. His ministry was cut short and he even began to doubt Jesus was the Messiah because of his own actions.
Different Emotions Should be Directed Differently
It’s interesting to see that Jesus allowed himself to be moved by certain emotion at certain times in his ministry. On one notable occasion, He was moved with anger in the Temple courts. He was moved by righteous anger, so why can’t we? When Jesus was motivated by anger it was always against the ‘Religious’. He never spoke out of anger about the Romans or the way the gentiles lived. We must be careful that we don’t allow ourselves to act out of anger and fear when it comes to the World, because those emotions are often irrational and short lived, and yet our actions from them can leave deep, hurtful, and damaging wounds in the world.
Difference between Anger & Compassion
My concern for the Church is that we are quickly motivated by anger and fear, sometimes without realizing, and yet we are scarcely moved by compassion. There is a major difference between anger/fear and compassion; that being that compassion is God-given. It requires us to work, by getting a real, up close, personal knowledge/understanding of people’s lives and situations. Anger is easy, but to be moved with compassion, our hearts must be in the right place and aligned with God’s.
Be Motivated by Compassion
Although Jesus was moved with anger once, there are countless times in scripture where He was moved by compassion. (Luke 7:13, Matt. 15:32, Matt. 9:36, Matt. 14:14). When compassion is birthed in God’s people, it leads to long lasting healing and redemptive change. Throughout history when God has moved on people’s heart through compassion, they have devoted their lives to do the work of Christ to restore the world’s mess. Hospitals, schools, mission’s agencies, churches, and humanitarian relief have all been the results, of people being moved by compassion. Each time as we have been moved by compassion and we have acted in love; people’s hearts are opened to the message of the Gospel.
Have a think about your ministry; Are you more motivated by compassion? Or have you allowed yourself to be more motivated by other emotions like anger or fear?
Have a think about your life; how are you currently being moved by compassion? Have you allowed yourself to be motivated by anger or fear?