We spent the day in Pentwater Michigan working on a house I have there that is well over 150 years old. It needs a lot of work! This home is one I hope to retire in someday but until then it has turned into a “mental health” project. I can go to this house, plan, build, tear out and make ready for the day I will call it “”home.” As the day got away from us we started the two hour trip back to the parsonage where we live later than expected. Along the way the kids were restless and hungry, imagine that! So we decided to stop at the “China Buffet” at the half way point.
There was one other family there eating but they were busy with carry out orders. After getting our food we decided to eat there as Chinese food is a little “iffy” to eat while on the run. While eating two men came into the restaurant and were very loud and obnoxious. It quickly became evident that they were probably homeless or destitute as their clothes and hygiene was exceptionally disgusting. There was a stench to them but all they wanted to do was talk; and they wanted to talk to us! They were not asking for anything other than a friendly open comfortable conversation. As they kept trying to engage us my wife was kind and considerate and talked with them in a compassionate manner. But not me, I was turned off and honestly just wanted them to go away, leave us alone, get outta my face, let me eat in peace! On the car ride that followed I felt as if Jesus was telling me that I was a good Pharisee! I had cast the first stone through my hearts attitude toward these two men and had passed by them “on the other side of the road.” I quickly became heart-broken as I realized my mistake.
At this point my sin was overwhelming. I hadn’t been Jesus to these two men; I had been the face of a careless person who deemed himself a “Christian.” In my sadness over my response I again asked Jesus for forgiveness. It was evident that my sin was not in what I was doing, but in what I had refused to do. I didn’t want to respond to these men in love but in rejection. I had no idea what the circumstances of their lives were and quite frankly I didn’t care.
Jesus tells us in this Scripture story that all of God’s children are priceless, even the “smelly” ones. The sin of our lives starts in our hearts, not our heads. Hearts have to overrule the consensus of our minds and the primary motivation of our hearts must be “love!” Jesus always turned the tables toward bettering people rather than rejecting or punishing them. He many times warned us that the judgment would come but until then all had the opportunity to repent and to restore their relationship with God. Jesus always reflected a heart of love for everyone regardless of the situation. Even when He called the religious leaders “vipers” it wasn’t out of hatred, it was out of love and trying to force them to see their hypocrisy. To this day, I still regret my shameful attitude and inaction toward these two men. Thank you Jesus for Your example, forgiveness and the example of a wife that modeled You.