I love listening to Ravi Zacharias’ podcasts, Just Thinking and Let My People Think. In one podcast, he summed up his message like this, ‘pathos for your people, prioritize in prayer, pondering in proximity, the process of preparation, and the paralysis of pessimism.’ Then he closed saying do what is right, undergirded by the Gospel.
What does that even mean?
“Pathos for your people”
Pathos means compassion or pity. In the latter, we feel bad for them, but we don’t act, no matter how many infomercials are shown with sad music overlapping. It’s the former that makes you move.
Compassion sees something and shouts, “this should not be!” Then it acts. Is there anything out there that kindles those feelings?
“Prioritize in prayer”
Then you have to go to God with it. We can temporarily alleviate suffering, and unfortunately, there’s more out there that we can’t reach alone, if at all. We have to get our hearts right, check our motives, and make sure we’re not doing this on our own strength. If so, we’ll be like a match trying to fight back the darkness. A brief flame, and then nothing.
“Pondering in proximity”
Everyone seems to have an opinion on how a nation should be ran, yet, few have been in, or seen the inner workings of the government. We’re not fully informed, so we can’t see what dominoes would fall if we did this or that, let alone know how to change directions without collapsing everything.
We have to get close to what we want to change.
Get into the middle of it, talk to people on all levels of it so you can get a variety of thoughts and ideas. Understand where they’re coming from. Pastor Rod said, “Your pain is a key to your assignment from God. It can be used to minister to others”, during a sermon last month.
If it’s something you have faced, then you have the experience, so you can more readily identify with others. Then prayerfully think about it.
“The process of preparation”
You have compassion. Your heart is right. You know what’s up. That means you’re ready…right?
You have to prepare for it, plan, rather than foolishly going off half-cocked. Like the time I locked my keys in the truck and wanted to smash the window. My wife wisely had me call a locksmith. Jesus spoke of preparation in Luke 14: 28-32:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”
There is a cost to everything you do and to be effective you have to plan accordingly.
- What’s the plan?
- What do you need to make it work?
- Can you get it?
- What are the alternatives?
All questions that must be answered.
“Paralysis of pessimism”
“It’s just too much for me, I’ll never make a difference.”
That thought can come in anywhere during the process, particularly during the planning or application phases. If you make a difference in one person’s life, and they make a difference in another’s, you’ll have started a domino effect. People usually pay it forward if they can’t pay it back.
“Doing what is right”
There are a lot of opinions on what’s the right thing to do. Some of them are wrong. Some are right. How can you tell what’s right?
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV
“Undergirded by the Gospel”
That’s just a good, basic way to live, but what’s the foundation? Undergird means “to give fundamental support.” In Matthew 7:24, Jesus said anyone who puts his words into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. It’s a firm foundation. The Gospel is the good news of second chances at reconciliation between God and mankind. Reconciliation is the center of it.
Jesus is the foundation that gives second chances.
Find the cause that you’re compassionate for. Is it a cause that can restore people to God primarily, and secondly restore them physically, ? Consider what it looks like at the ground level. Jesus looked at the crowds and said, ‘they’re like sheep without a shepherd.’ Helpless. Prepare for it, press forward, and go forth doing good.