Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
Years ago I got into a discussion with a coworker about giving money to panhandlers on the street corner. My friend Byron was convinced that such people who are on the corners in some of the nicer neighborhoods (like Stone Oak), or the more heavily trafficked intersections (like by Rolling Oaks mall) are all part of a racket that’s being run, and that they can make more money begging than those who do an honest day’s work. He said that he has since them be picked up at the end of the day by a guy driving a Cadillac. He thought I was crazy for giving them money, as they obviously weren’t in need. It was all a scam, he said. I told him that I felt that it wasn’t my place to judge, and that I was concerned about missing out on the opportunity to “entertain angels” and didn’t want to be the goat sitting to the left of Jesus. Others have scoffed at my giving money to what appeared to be a struggling mother with a baby on her hip, because “she’s only going to buy drugs with it, dontcha know, Laura?”
I have purchased fast food meals for people begging on street corners; I have gone into Walmart to get dog food, beef jerky, nuts, water, and granola bars for people begging in front of Walmart. It’s the right thing to do, and I’m going to continue doing it as often as I get the opportunity.
Speaking of opportunity, I was doing my typical Saturday errands this past weekend, having changed the church marquee and stopping by Sherrie’s Starbucks on the way to my HEB on Evans. As I drove down the hill, I noticed a woman wearing a slip of a dress and no shoes walking on the sidewalk. I was wearing a sweater (if you know me, I am always cold, so that doesn’t mean much) as it was around 59 degrees in the early afternoon. I kept watching her as I passed, to see if she was hurt or drunk or what. In hindsight, I should have prayed for His guidance on whether I should check in on her, but I didn’t. I am naïve, but even I know the potential dangers of offering a ride to a stranger, especially in this day and age. I said a prayer for her as I drove on, shaking my head at my lack of action.
Later on that same day, I was driving to an Emmaus event at a church across town. I had to swing by my work and pick up something I’d forgotten, and I was concerned that I was not going to get to the church before the event started. I went via cross streets, slowing at a stoplight that had just turned green to allow a lady whom I thought was crossing the street to cross the street. She waved at me, so I thought she was waving me through the intersection. As I started to turn left, I realized that she wasn’t waving me through; she was waving at me to get my attention. Since I feared that I had no time to spare, given that I was 16.25 minutes away from the church, I gently shook my head at her, indicating that I couldn’t talk, slow down, or purchase something if she was selling it.
My heart has bothered me about these two ladies since Saturday. I confessed in prayers that I had not been Jesus to these two ladies, and confessed also that I struggle with the right thing to do in situations like them. If I confess but cannot say that I won’t do it again (because if you can’t be honest with All-Knowing and Mighty God, with whom in His green earth can you be?), am I truly repentant? I can justify my actions easily, and I daresay that there are a number of folks who I’m sure would say that I didn’t do anything wrong.
As I have been writing this, my mind seeks to understand if I’m overly concerned that deep down inside God is upset with me, or that I fear my Christianity has been a sham, because if I truly felt called to be like Jesus, I shouldn’t have any qualms about tending to the least of these. I wonder if I fear that I’ll miss out on other opportunities if I don’t act on situations like these.
I fear I don’t have a resolution to this, dear readers. I felt compelled, and I’m hopeful that it’s from the Holy Spirit, to share this with you. I ask for your prayers for me to find His way and His lesson in all of this.
I thank you for being a captive audience for my ramblings, especially with today’s devotional!
“Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude—an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God.” – A.W. Pink
“Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once, and He volunteered.” -- R. C. Sproul
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
My venture into junior high athletics was joining the track team in junior high in Beavercreek, Ohio, in the seventh grade. Because we didn’t have enough track and field jerseys, some of had to wear leftover/extra volleyball jerseys. I wasn’t pleased about it, but I sucked it up and “paid my dues”. When it came time to receive jerseys the following year, I was devastated when I was handed a volleyball jersey again, even though there were seventh graders who had gotten the chance to wear track jerseys. I don’t recall how I kept it together on the bus ride home from school, but I can paint the scene when I got home, because I know my mother thought something horrific had happened with the way I’d thrown my head in her lap and sobbed—weeping at the unfairness of not getting to wear a track jersey, even though I was in eighth grade and it was my turn! “Oh, the injustice of it all!” I can say that cheekily now, some 35+ years later, but then, I was distraught at the idea that fairness seemed to be fluid when I saw it as solid black and white.
Throughout my adult life, I’ve invested a fortune in time and effort fighting for fairness, or perhaps it’s more that fighting against unfairness. Whether the injustice has been at a child’s sports game (no, I was never yellow carded at a YMCA soccer game or asked to leave by a perennially blind sports official who overlooked the obvious slide tackle that took my son out as defender) or at work where the inevitable occurrence of a less-than-stellar coworker or team being celebrated by leadership occurs, despite the seemingly copious amount of work being done by me or my team.
Yes, I am painfully aware that such things are temporary in His kingdom’s work. I’m also aware that how I act in them can speak volumes more from a gospel-sharing point of view than any spoken word I can utter. Knowing these things doesn’t always translate into pristine and Christian witness, however.
The latest incident came about when I realized that a young coworker seemed to take for granted that the rest of my team and I would cover for her in a meeting while she worked from home due to a doctor’s appointment, even though her doctor’s appointment was earlier in the day than said meeting. Executive leadership had praised her work output earlier in the week; now she was not even going to bother to run the meeting that had been hers to set up. It irked me to high heavens that someone would do that, and was the proverbial straw in a jumble of work-related and stress-inducing changes that put me over the edge. Instead of seeking solitude and perspective, I let what I thought was righteous anger get the better of me, and my mood was soured virtually the entire workday. Adding to the frustration was the fact that I knew I wasn’t acting very Christ-like, but dang it, it just wasn’t fair how things were progressing. That elusive last fruit of the Spirit—self-control—always seemed beyond my grasp, and it was even further away now.
I’m fortunate enough to have tremendously supportive friends who firmly but lovingly redirect me when I’ve fallen off the path, and my friend Cathy did that for me the next day. She shared insights that I had not been able to see (though I should have been open to looking for them) and gently reminded me of the perspective and outlook I am supposed to have as a child of God.
As much as I struggle with the thought of injustice in this world—on the continuum from there being innocent victims of war, abuse, violence and abject poverty to people who cut in line at the return line at Costco (don’t get me started…I was so surprised at this lady’s audacity and disrespect for signs and line etiquette that the words “There’s a line” tumbled out my non-confrontational mouth before I even realized they were being said, and yet she was not deterred), I know that nothing compares to the injustice that Lord Jesus suffered for us when He hung on the cross. It’s not fair that He took the punishment that was due me. It’s just not right that this innocent man had to give up His glory when He stepped out of heaven into this horrific and broken world so that He could fulfill the Father’s plan.
But yet He did, because love trumps injustice—love trumps inequality, love trumps evil. My Savior, my King, took in the wretched sin of this world and then received the punishment of that sin—the wrath and then the absence of Almighty God—because He loves me.
I am awed and humbled at this action and this gift. May I always feel this way, and I pray that you do as well.
Love is a powerful, overwhelming, and mighty blessing from our Heavenly Father. May you walk in His overflowing love this week, and beyond.
“I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God; it changes me.” – C.S. Lewis
“Satan’s greatest weapon is man’s ignorance of the Word.”
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…
A couple of months ago I attended the memorial service of the father of a dear, dear friend. I’d never met Jerry, my friend’s father, but my friend had told me stories of the strong Christian she knew him to be as she was growing up—how delighted he would be when Jehovah’s Witnesses appeared at his doorstep, for it was an opportunity to set them straight; how from a young age, my friend has memories of hearing her parents praying for her and her four brothers when they went to bed, and how much comfort that brought her; and how her father witnessed to every nursing aide and caregiver in his later years. Every person who came up to talk regaled those in attendance with stories of how their dear “Paw-paw” was intent on sharing the gospel with everyone, regardless of the circumstance or situation. In between times of folks coming up to share their stories, the pastor preached and witnessed. I was struck at the thought of it seeming to be less of a memorial service, and more of a testimony and evangelism opportunity. In his death, just as he had in his life, Jerry brought the gospel and the love of Christ to his friends, family, and acquaintances.
Jerry’s family and friends said that Jerry had no doubt that he was going to heaven, and he wanted others to share in his confidence. He wanted them to know that they know that they are going to heaven. He did—why shouldn’t they?
Why shouldn’t we know that we know, indeed? But do you, my friend? If you were die tomorrow, would you end up in the presence of Jesus and the host of heaven, or would it be a little (okay, a lot) toasty instead? I know that there are minor disagreements as to when we would be in His presence, were we to die (immediately v in the grave for a time until His second coming), but the end result is the same: you’ll be in either Heaven or Hell.
If you aren’t 100% sure that you’ll finally get to meet Jesus and Jerry in heaven, don’t despair—you are closer than you think. I contend that the doubt you may feel is the Holy Spirit’s conviction within our heart. Ask Him to help you get to the point where you know that you’ll have eternal life. Let the joy of that knowledge bubble over onto others, so they’re curious to know the source of your delight.
If, on the other hand, you know where you’re going, I ask you: who all are you seeking to bring with you, like Jerry did? Are you giving Him the praise and worship He deserves? Are you living your life in honor of the One who died for you? Are you obeying the Lord in His instruction to go make disciples of all nations?
Please know that my questions are not meant to shame but to challenge. Your answers to those questions can serve as a roadmap of your spiritual development, with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
May the presence of the Holy Spirit direct you to understand the sacrificial love of the Lord Jesus Christ and the sovereignty of the Almighty God.
“Your journey will be much lighter and easier if you don’t carry your past with you.”
“We must read our bibles like men digging for hidden treasure!”