This is Between God and You

hungry

How do you react when you see someone standing near the freeway or on a street corner holding a sign?  You’ve seen them, haven’t you?  Some are hungry and will work for food.  Others are in need and have children.  What do you do?

Maybe you noticed the cigarettes or the cell phone in his hand and you think, I’m not giving him a dime!

Or maybe you remembered when you were going through a difficult time and someone reached out to you, so you stick your hand out the window with a little cash. It’s not much, you think. But at least it’s something.

Perhaps you drove past the man and his sign and hurried to a fast-food restaurant to order some sort of meal deal with a drink.  You returned to him and handed over the bag and soda, immediately humbled when he thanks you.

Let me ask you this:  Did you ask God what to do?  Did you pray for wisdom?  Or were you too busy making a judgment while hitting the gas to get away from the man and his sign because he made you uncomfortable?

God will tell you what to do if you ask Him.  He’ll give you a nudge.  He’ll whisper softly to your heart.  He may even give you specifics, to buy the expensive and REAL burger for the man instead of the chicken sandwich because God knows he is anemic and needs iron.  God may give you the very word, a spark of  hope the man needs.  He may even have you offer the eternal hope of salvation when you tell the man that Jesus Christ is not only your best friend but your Lord and Savior and maybe he’d like to get to know Him too.

Or God may tell you to keep driving but pray for the man. Perhaps it is for your own protection.  Perhaps the man is dishonest and is not really in need. Or maybe the man has an addiction and one more dollar will be enough for his “just one more time” that could end his life.

Maybe God is telling you to keep driving so the man behind you in the pickup truck will be able to stop and share his testimony.  Only God knows both of these men and their stories and how one can truly reach the other.

You may never know the reason why God tells you what to buy for the man in need, or what to say, or why you are to keep driving and pray for him. You don’t need to know the reason.  You just need to listen to God.

Don’t doubt. Don’t question.  And don’t listen to someone ridiculing you later, saying it was foolish and the man is just going to spend your money on drugs or beer, when God instructed you to give him cash.

You see, your part is to seek God and His wisdom and then obey. That is between God and you.  That’s your part.  What the man does with what you’ve given, what God has given him through you, that’s between God and him.  You don’t need to fret or wonder if you did the right thing.

If you obeyed God, you did the right thing.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NIV.)

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17 ESV.)

When “Christians” Throw Stones

stone

Have you ever been hurt by a Christian?  Me too.

The truth is Christians are also human.  We’re going to make mistakes.  We’re going to really mess up and hurt people.  And when we do, we need to say we’re sorry.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about those who call themselves “Christians” while lashing out at others, using the title as a form of entitlement to criticize, judge, and sometimes even belittle others.

They sort of remind me of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

They like to put on a good show and brag about their giving and serving.  In anger, they throw Scripture at you like stones when you sin instead of speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  They will show you everything you’re doing wrong in a way that makes you feel so beneath them that you may even wonder if you’re worthy to be loved by God.  Am I good enough? Am I doing enough?   Lord, what’s wrong with me?   

You may start to feel like you don’t belong, even in Church. Maybe especially in Church.

It hurts a lot.  Doesn’t it?

Jesus sees it, and He’s not happy about it either.

Remember when Jesus served His disciples by washing their feet?  Do you think He slammed them for having dirty feet, scrubbed their toes until they bled, or belittled them for not taking better care of their feet?   Of course not.  He lovingly washed them as a servant.  Can you imagine Jesus kneeling at your feet, looking up to you (wow!) as He washes and cares for your feet?

Love.  That’s what that is.

I’m not talking about the kind of love like, “I love French fries at the fair during a warm summer evening.”  I’m talking about the love you give away from your heart when you serve others.  You want nothing in return.  You just want to reflect the kind of love that was reflected in Jesus’ eyes when He was kneeling there washing feet.

How do you love like that?

When you give someone a ride after his car breaks down, when you spend time with those who are lonely or discouraged, or when you send a card to let others know you’re thinking of them.  You love by not only offering to be there for someone but by showing up when the time comes.

You love like Jesus when others fall and you offer to help them up.  You tell them you’re praying for them because you really are praying for them.  And yes, you offer God’s Word to show them that He has so much more for them; He doesn’t want them going the wrong way down a treacherous path of sin that takes them further and further away from Him.  God wants them safe, with Him, right in His arms.  And you want that for them too because you know it is the best place to be.

The place NOT to be is towering over others, pointing an accusatory finger and bashing them verbally.  (Not Christ-like behavior.)

Remember how the Pharisees wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery?  Jesus said, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 NIV.)

Hmm.  Not a single one of them was able to throw a stone.

What if you were the one in the dirt having those fingers pointing at you?  If you’ve experienced some sort of attack like this, I’d like to say on behalf of all of us imperfect followers following a perfect Jesus Christ:  I’m truly sorry. And, please don’t take it out on God.

You see, God’s the One who led me to write this today so you’d know that just because someone claims to be a Christian, doesn’t always mean they are really doing what God wants.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 7:21 NIV.)

And I believe God also wanted to remind you today that He loves you.  That is why He doesn’t want any of us to continue down a path of sin that will surely trip us up.  Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11b NIV.)

Just remember, you don’t have to be perfect before God will love you.

God already loves you because HE is perfect love.

So focus on that fact, on Jesus dying for you, and the privilege you have to know Him and to love like Him.  Yes, focus on Jesus instead of those who masquerade as His followers clutching a stone in each hand.

And don’t forget to forgive those who’ve already hit you with one.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1 NIV.)