It happened again, as it has more times than I can remember. I stopped for a red light at a corner where one of those people were. You know, the ones who are a bit disheveled, maybe gaunt, quite often looking much older than their chronological years, due to a hard life. There is always a sign made from a broken box that says something like, “Down on luck.” “Brain tumor.” “Help my kids.” “Anything helps.” Without fail, though, the final words on the sign are, “God bless.”
My reaction this time came straight from the same pool (cesspool) as previously. *I looked away. *I felt guilty for having a car and home, with food on the table. *I felt guilty for not wanting to give them anything. *I felt manipulated. *I felt condemned because I didn’t hear Holy Spirit telling me what to do. *I added this person into the category of those who make a tax-free living from handouts on a street corner rather than getting a real job. *I distrusted them and their sign completely. *I felt sorry for them. *I resented them for making me feel guilty for having what they don’t have. *I resented them for trying to manipulate me with “God bless.” *I heard that hated word should hammering at me in various statements. “I should give them some of the cash I keep for just such possibilities.” “As a follower of Christ, I should just give every time, no matter what.” You get the picture.
Frustrated by the conflict recurring in my mind, I asked, “What do You want me to do, Daddy? Not just with this one person, but from here on.” I did not ask for a give / don’t give answer to apply every time, because I know He will lead me with each one – when I hear Him. I was missing something, though, and it turned out to be an across-the-board answer after all, though it wasn’t financial. It was an issue with my heart revealed as He spoke these words to me, “Look at them.”
“Look at them.” So simple. So clear. “Look at them” through Daddy’s eyes instead of my own natural ones. When I really look at them, it’s not hard to know what He would have me do for each person I encounter. Look at them as He looks at them, in their current condition. Without looking away. Without looking askance. Look at them as human beings, regardless of their reason for being on that street corner. Look past the protective façade of hardness to see the sadness or pain or anger. Look at them as Daddy does, with absolute love. Just look at them.
In the short term, it seems much easier to look away, because nothing is required when I don’t look, when I don’t know. Yet those are the very times I miss Jesus. To look at their faces as Daddy does means I see them not as the enemy, but as one Jesus died for who is being hammered by the enemy. When I look at a younger man begging for money as Daddy looks at him, my heart breaks at the shame he feels. Or when I look with His eyes at the older ones – those who don’t remember much of life other than this – and I see them as babies and young children so full of life and hope. Is this what their mothers and fathers envisioned for them as adults, a life seemingly without hope? Again He says, “Look at them.”
“Look at them.” These words have changed my heart, but I still need reminding. How thankful I am that Daddy keeps looking at me even when I turn away from those unlike me. How thankful I am that He continues to work those words more deeply into my heart. The actions that result from looking at people with His eyes vary. That’s part of the joy of following His Spirit. But the beginning point is always the same, for it is in my heart. “Look at them.”