Monday, May 2, 2016

Judging Others by Appearances

I was in Chicago for work the other week and went to a trendy artisan soup restaurant for lunch with a colleague.  When we had finished lunch and were exiting the building, I saw a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk with his back against the wall.  He had a large blanket covering his legs and lap.  As I looked a little bit closer I thought I could see a pair of eyes peeking out from beneath the blanket!  I crouched down to get on eye level with the man to get a closer look and asked his name (Troy).  Troy is an African-American man in his late twenties.  I introduced myself and asked him if he had a child under the blanket which he confirmed.  He pulled it back a bit and I could see his beautiful two year-old daughter, Faith, looking innocently back at me. Troy told me he and Faith currently are staying at the Pacific Garden Mission. They provide a meal in the morning and dinner at night but they are on their own for lunch.  I asked if I could help him get lunch and he said someone was already helping him with that. I then asked him where Faith’s mama was.  He shared that she had been shot and killed when Faith was only two months old. Wow!  I told him how much I admired and respected him for taking care of his daughter the best way he knew how.  I asked him was he working and he said he wants to but he has a felony conviction for attempted murder when he was seventeen (tried as an adult) so employment options are very few.  Before I left him I asked him for his prayer request.  His simple answer was “a job.”  As I got up to leave I gave him some money and asked for God’s blessing on him.

1 Samuel 16:7b - “...The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Things to think about:

  • To be totally honest, I have an attitude about men who father children and then are rarely involved in their lives. I think it is weak and cowardly and it makes me angry with them.  
    • More often than not, out of wedlock births result in children being raised in single parent homes, usually by the mother
    • so with all of my preconceived notions and biases about this topic, I learned (again) a very important lesson - we don’t know someone’s story until we take the time to learn it.
  • So, am I the only one who has prejudices about the decisions people make?
    • who do you “have an attitude” about?
  • But God doesn’t look at the things we look at:
    • wealth, car, education, house, job title, clothes, appearance, role at the local church, giving
  • Rather, He looks at the heart
    • on its own, our hearts don’t have much to recommend us either since we are wired for sin
    • but through faith (not works), we find favor with Him
    • He knows if our desire is to walk with Him and please Him even though we don’t meet the holy standard (love the Thomas Merton quote the other week!)
    • Even if we can fool others (and to a great extent ourselves), God sees us very clearly
  • As you go from our meeting today, ask the Lord to give you eyes to see others as He sees them, the willingness to stop for a minute and learn another’s story, and to offer a cup of cool grace instead of the burning rod of judgement
  • My prayer request today is for Troy and Faith - that God would lift them up from the streets and bring healing and wholeness to their lives.  That Troy could get a good job doing meaningful work he likes and is proud to do.  That Faith could have a life rich in love and hope that can only be found in relationship with Jesus.

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