Monday, January 31, 2011
REMEMBER THE POOR
"All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along." - (Galatians 2:10)
A few years ago I threw a small party at my house. One of my friends wanted to make something for everyone but we were out of a few special ingredients. So, my friend hopped in the car to go and buy what we needed at a nearby grocery store.
When my friend returned I met him at the door. "What took you so long?" I asked, and then I noticed that my friend wasn't wearing any shoes.
"Did you run out of here and forget your shoes?"
My friend came into the house and set the grocery bags on the floor. "No," he said.
I was confused. "How did you end up losing your shoes at the grocery store?"
My friend explained, "When I came out of the store I saw a homeless man digging through the trash outside in the parking lot, but I was in a hurry because I knew everyone was waiting for me to get back. I jumped in the car and made it almost to the street before I heard the Lord tell me to turn around. So, I backed up and parked the car and walked over to the man. I asked him if he was hungry and if he wanted me to buy him some food. He said, no thanks. So, I asked him why he was digging through the trash and he said he was looking for some shoes. I looked down at his feet and his shoes were ragged and torn. That's when I noticed, standing there beside him, that my feet were the same size as his. So, I took off my shoes and gave them to the man."
As my friend told this story to me, my eyes filled with tears of amazement. I couldn't help but wonder, "Would I have done that? Would I have taken off my shoes and given them to a stranger?"
The followers of Jesus are held to a higher standard of love than others. We're commanded not only to love God, and to love our neighbors, but to love those who don't love us, and to care for the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the stranger all the same.
My family has been reading through the book of Acts together in the morning before we start our day. It's been fascinating to see how people who were filled with the Holy Spirit of God and overjoyed about the coming of the Messiah couldn't help but share all that they had with one another out of love. When the scriptures tell us, that "...there was no needy person among them" (Acts 4:33-34) it doesn't mean that they didn't have any poor people in their church. Can we say the same of our churches today?
The word "Compassion" means "to suffer with". It means that when we see the pain of others, we are also in pain. We must care for them as we would care for ourselves.
This is why Jesus warns us that, at the Judgment seat of Christ, our love will be measured by how we responded to the poor God placed in our path. If we gave them food when they were hungry, or water when they were thirsty, or clothing when they were naked, or love when they were lonely, then it is counted as if we had done it unto our Lord Jesus Himself.
I've never given away my shoes to a homeless person. But, one day, I do hope that the Lord gives me an opportunity to put my shoes on His feet like this. Or perhaps, soon, I can buy him a cheeseburger, or something cool to drink the next time I see one of His representatives in the streets.
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' - (Matthew 25:37-40)