My family and I were blessed to serve a number of people for Thanksgiving. None of the objects came from us, we were simply there to hand them out and organize. Included in these objects were food, clothing and a miscellaneous bag to take home. It was a wonderful event for the area and many people were helped. As we helped there was a specific comment made in my hearing and then directly to me. “You know a lot of these people come and take advantage of the system. They may have a phone or something else; they simply don’t want to work.” As I allowed this idea to run through my head, I found I had a real problem with it. There were times in my life that I needed help. I may not have appeared to need such help. I had a car, a home and other items… so why did I need help. Well, certain events in life necessitated it.
Too often we are way too ready to assume ideas and thoughts about people and circumstances that we do not know. Jesus taught a lesson to the Pharisees about mercy and forgiveness (Matt. 9:9f). The Pharisees were upset by the fact that Jesus ate with a tax collector and called him as a disciple. Jesus was going to mentor this despicable tax collector. However, Jesus’ reaction highlights God’s heart and should decide our reactions in most situations. He stated, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:12,13)
Do you often find yourself “assuming a certain mentality?” Do you watch people and form certain opinions in your mind about their lifestyle, their intentions or their work ethic/laziness? There is no doubt that certain people are lazy and have a low work ethic. However, to take one or multiple looks at a person and assume a lifestyle or a work ethic is idiocy. I definitely do not want someone looking at me at any given time and making such far reaching assumptions. Do you? To be sure, only God knows a person’s heart or intentions.
The needed lesson that Jesus taught these Pharisees was that of mercy and compassion. He told them, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” God desires that his people live their lives out of mercy. It is in conflict with the New Testament for God’s church to worship him on Sunday and then assume the worst out of people Monday through Saturday. Imagine if at any time our lives, at our worst, God assumed the worst of us and gave up on us. “’I desire mercy, not sacrifice”… God says.
May we not serve out of our mental picture of who needs aid. May we be in prayer for God to provide opportunities to serve, to share the Gospel and to be a kind word or action when needed. By Andy Burns