The Integrity of a Compassionate Heart

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“So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”  Psalm 78:72

Yes, I’m still here, still thinking about Your love and compassion, Lord.  I’ve seen Pharaoh’s daughter exhibit a form of compassion.  Saul called the leader of the Ziphites compassionate, but that’s not the same word used for You, Lord.  Destroying kings lacked even this compassion.  Yet sometimes, You, Lord do show that type of compassion, but it’s not the depth of Your compassion.

But You, Lord, are full of compassion that is different and bigger and stronger and more of everything than I can describe in words.  You don’t act like man.  You respond differently than any man would respond and I’m so grateful for that.  Psalm 78:38 tells me that You, “being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yes, many a time turned He His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath.”  And You didn’t just do this for the Israelites.  You do this every day for me and for every one of us who have placed our trust in You.  Because when we trust in You, in Christ, and commit our lives and ways to You, You “remember that [we] are but flesh; a wind that passes away, and comes not again.”

In Your compassion You know my weakness and yet You love me.  And the amazing thing is that Your compassion was already present in Your character, in who You are, from the beginning of time as we know it.  Well, actually, it has always been there but we can only experience it from the time we’ve known.  I know this because I see it in the first trees You placed in the garden.  If You were a compassionless God, You would have only placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there to be chosen.  And once the choice was made to disobey You and trust our own way and in our own knowledge, all would have been lost.  You would have counted our flawed human nature as total loss, despised us, and condemned us.  But You placed the tree of life there in the garden also.  And that is the tree that demonstrates Your heart for us, that though we deserve death and separation, You have this unexplainable compassion still towards us in that You continue to offer us life.  And You held that eternal life back from us until we should be restored in You.  You didn’t allow us to be eternally lost by eating of that tree.  You could have slaughtered Adam and Eve but instead You slaughtered an animal and clothed them in Your righteousness by it.  That was another evidence of Your great mercy to us.  You cast us out of the perfect garden but left us in an imperfect world to duplicate Your great compassion to others for a time.

Time.  You have been showing compassion through ages of eternity.  We have a limited time here on earth.  We think it is long and hard.  But what if I stop to think about the ages upon ages that You have shed Your compassion on every person from creation until You bring the end of days?  What if I think of how You have had to control Your wrath when men like Hitler and those who lead in genocide today spit in the face of Your compassion and our calling upon earth to one another?  And I hear people cry out that You are not a compassionate God.  Well, if You were not, we would all be destroyed already, and rightfully so.

It’s the same old story.  We provoke You.  We grieve You.  We turn our backs on You and tempt You.   We limit You.  Oh, and I’m not just talking about the Hitler’s here.  I’m talking about the church, the called out ones, the ones who ought to know.   We can be just as guilty of not remembering Your hand, not remembering how You have delivered us before.  We forget Your signs and wonders and count them as things of the past.  Rivers of blood were for the Egyptians, not today.  Flies and frogs were stories of the past, but not today.  But as far as I’m concerned, You are the same Master of the hail and frost today, of the signs and wonders, of the flies and frogs.  And just as You shepherded Your people Israel and guided them through the wilderness, so You shepherd and guide Your people still today and always.

To continue with us faithfully when we are unfaithful, is that not compassion of the utmost?  I think so.  Am I not guilty of not keeping Your testimony?  Don’t I often forget who You are and what You have done and don’t I often forget that my life and being is dependent on my understanding and knowing and living according to and within that testimony?

But here You are, a God who has every right to be angry.  And here You are a God who sometimes begins to show His great anger, but even in the midst of that great anger, You wake Yourself up and stop Yourself because of Your compassion for us, a compassion that is greater than the fierceness of Your wrath.  You wake Yourself up as if from sleep, and look for those who will humble themselves before You in love.  You choose those with a beginning of a servant heart and make them like Christ.  You look for those who are demonstrating compassion among lowly sheep because they will also demonstrate Your compassion among faulty people.  And if one can be truly compassionate for a dumb sheep, surely they can learn Your compassion for the people who are as straying sheep.

And so You, the Good Shepherd, feed Your sheep according to the integrity of Your heart.  It’s how You fed David, even amidst his heart that was still guilty of sin.   And integrity here isn’t just this english word we think of.  It’s completeness.  It’s the completeness of Your heart.  It’s everything that flows from Your heart.  How can I explain that in words?  I can’t.  One just has to start knowing You and meditating in You to even begin to grasp the completeness in Your heart, in Your being, in You.  And in this wholeness of You, in Your Youness, You guide us by the skillfulness of Your hands.  You transport us from our exile into You.  You walk us through the wilderness into the promised land of You.  You are the promised land.  Seeing You face to face is the goal.  David only had integrity of heart and skillful hands because His heart and hands were molded by Yours.  So let my heart and hands be molded by You, Lord, and filled with Your compassion and righteousness.

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