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Good Religion, but without a Heart: Luke 13: 10-17

Augustus Henry
Inspiration from New Creation Ministry —
By Augustus Henry (PhD)

Luke 13:10-13, On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

(Chapter 14) Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

Here at New Creation, we have a dear sister who is recovering from a broken leg. It might have been over two years that she has been struggling in her recovery. How I wish that if she was in church one day and Jesus came by and pronounce her healed. How ecstatic I would be. And it would not matter if he did it in the middle of praise and worship. I would not care if he interrupted communion service to heal her either. If I were in the middle of my sermon, I would sit down and let him have his way. 

But the bible says that this church official was indignant that Jesus healed the cripple woman. And the excuse was that he performs that feat on the Sabbath.  But watch this, they were quite content in attending to a cow, a sheep or a donkey that might need them on the sabbath instead of a human being who was ladened with physical paralysis for 18 years.

(Chapters 15 – 16) The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

To interpret Jesus words as he referred to that lady as Abraham’s daughter: you prioritize your lousy church service over a woman who has been suffering for 18 years. You would prefer to treat your animals before her. And the whole time you do this, you are doing it to your own flesh and blood. 

If you were in the audience, would you be supporting Jesus’ point-of-view or is it possible that you share the view of the church clergy? Don’t be too quick to answer!

A Responsive Heart

I was coming from Griffin, Georgia, a town 10 miles south of where I live. The summer sun was so hot on that day that the air conditioner in my car struggled to keep it cool. The temperature that day was nearing 100 degrees. As I drove, there was an old woman walking up the side of the road with a heavy load. She appeared to be about 90 and seemed fragile and exhausted. She paused every few steps to catch her breath. Vehicles were traveling up and down. They swerved to avoid hitting her, but none stopped, not even me.  

As I passed her, my heart pained for her, however, just as the church leaders in the scripture we read, I began to create reasons in my mind for not giving this poor lady a ride. She was dirty and unkempt. I thought that she might have an illness or two that I can contract; or worse yet, she might leave a trace of some disease in my car the family might contract. I convinced myself that she could not be going very far because it was a residential neighborhood (I learnt later that she had to walk at least 3 miles). Then I created a picture in my mind that she must be crazy and would create problems for me if I stopped to help. Finally, I thought to myself that she is White, and I am Black, and given the possible racial implications, that offering her a ride might bring negative repercussions for me. 

Now, don’t judge me too quickly because we all do the same every day! 

In spite of all the torrent of thoughts that stormed my mind, and excuses I made, the spirit of God kept tugging on my heart to turn around and go back to get her, which I finally did. That is how you know that God is still with you, that our conscience is still functioning. The bible says that the spirit of God will not always strive with men.

 The truth is when the spirit tugs on your heart like this and you ignore it, you begin to build resistance for goodness, you begin to build resistance for mercy, you begin to build resistance for charity. And the more you resist, the colder your heart gets to the point where you see people suffering day after day, year after year, and you do nothing. And that is how the spirit of God stops striving with men. 

The Disappearing Heart

My point is that sometimes we ignore situations to help people so frequently that we don’t see them anymore even though they may glare in our faces. Our hearts become blinded to the pain and suffering of our neighbors, sometimes even our friends. Matthew 24:12-13 says, “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” It also says, that “in the latter days men will be lovers of their own selves;” So much so that the needs of others become oblivious to them. 

Sometimes you wonder who was stuck most for those 18 years, or who needed more help, the woman or church officials; the person in need of help or the one doing the helping. I wondered, had I not stopped to help that woman, who had the bigger problem, that poor lady or me.

The Changed Heart

We are often stuck believing that changing our religion means the same thing as changing our hearts. A heart that is changed feels that pain of others. A heart that is changed can empathize.  A heart that is changed listens when the spirit beckons. A heart that is changed is not numb to the burdens that others carry.  Just because suffering and pain is commonplace, should not render us immune to the troubles of people.  

Chuck Swindoll once said, “The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” We can choose love over selfishness because there are opportunities to love everywhere if you look. Let us choose a heart of love over pretentious or ritualistic religion. Listen for the spirit as it speaks to your heart prodding you to help someone!