TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:45 NKJV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Last Saturday, the news included this headline: “Venice Beach Violence Reaching Boiling Point in L.A. As New Viral Video Emerges.” The article went on to say, “A video posted online Friday appears to show a homeless man being attacked by an unidentified man and woman as he sits on the ground near the boardwalk — while other people walk past without intervening.”
I don’t know the details of what happened, but given that the homeless man was sitting — I can’t fathom that the ones hitting him were acting in self-defense. They were standing over him, screaming and punching and kicking.
While I don’t know the circumstances, what I do know is that mankind has an extraordinary penchant for cruelty to one another. What troubled me even more than the seemingly unprovoked attack was found in the last sentence — “while other people walk past without intervening.”
My heart asked me an incriminating question — would I?
Friends, I wanted to weep because my honest answer is, “I don’t know.”
I want to say, “Of course I would have stepped in!” I certainly would have called the police… But I can’t say that I would have intervened… and my heart hurt by the reality of how numb we are to others. It hurts to admit that I’m every bit as guilty.
When did we lose our humanity?
When did we stop being compassionate?
When did we forget that others — even our enemies — are created beings made in the image of God?
My heart is so saddened by this. And I’m convicted.
After watching that video, I did a little Googling to read other headlines — both violence against the homeless and violence by the homeless. They were available in pretty equal measure.
I honestly struggle with this because while I believe we should help others, we should also encourage people to better themselves — not enable damaging behaviors or bad choices. But no matter what the reason(s) someone is in the position they are in — it’s common decency to agree that we shouldn’t be cruel and hateful to people because they live different, look different, or think different. Notice, I didn’t say we have to agree, affirm, or concede to values and opinions that differ from ours or what the Bible says. That’s a whole other topic which I could spend hours on… and contrary to what the media says, my disagreement with someone is neither hateful nor abusive. It means I disagree.
Before I digress down that rabbit trail… let’s go to Matthew 25:40. You’re probably familiar with this verse — it says, “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.’” But I want to skootch down a little to verse 45, which says, “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did NOT do it to one of the least of these, you did NOT do it to Me.’” (Emphasis mine.)
I’ve spent plenty of time thinking about what I have done. Very little time thinking about what I haven’t done. I encourage you to read the whole passage. It runs from Matthew 25:31-46 and is titled, “The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations.”
I pray daily for the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I pray to be kind and loving and show others the Fruit of the Spirit. Admittedly, though, I don’t always have a lot of practical, in-person opportunities since I work from home and seldom venture out of my little bedroom community. I’m a little like an ostrich with her head in the sand. Not intentionally, but it’s the reality of my world.
But still, I don’t want to be blind or insensitive. I want stories like this to break my heart because I know they break God’s. The homeless man is a man made in God’s image. The man and woman abusing him are also made in God’s image.
The doctor who spends his days performing abortions is made in God’s image. The mother who is on his table, terminating her pregnancy, is made in God’s image. The rude and impatient woman at the grocery store is made in God’s image. The guy who nearly caused an accident because of texting and driving is made in God’s image.
I don’t have to like or agree with these people or affirm what they are doing in order to pray for them. I pray for my family, my friends, and Jesus told me in His Word to pray for the people I don’t like or agree with — even my enemies (Matthew 5:44). Because as long as these people have breath in their lungs, God is willing to redeem them and change their lives if they will surrender to Jesus. Just like He did for me.
And just as He did for the most unlikely and hopeless of candidates: a dying, yet repentant, thief on a cross.
I feel like this blog post is rambling. I have a lot to say and many thoughts on all this… but the heart of this message is that people matter. We live in a country that seems determined to segregate itself into individual groups, screaming that their group is better or more right than others. That’s not right. We are people. Again, people made in the image of God Himself. Therefore, as Christians, it’s our responsibility to show others who Jesus is. To love people and care about them as Jesus does. To want to tell them about Jesus. To do for ‘the least of these’ knowing that in doing so, we are doing it for Jesus.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for His example. He always looked at others with kindness and compassion. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes that see as Jesus does. Ask Him to equip you to pray for all people — even the ones you don’t like, understand, or agree with. And ask Him for the courage to step up and do what is right.
SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the NKJV translation.