Look at Them

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.”

Through No Fault of Their Own

How quickly the Lord began to work on me after writing Even If I Forget.  As I prayed for the people our congregation was bringing to receive a Thanksgiving meal, I realized that, though we desire to love the people we bring in, we look at them as inferior.  It’s quite hidden, even from ourselves, but it’s there.  I really believe it’s this way throughout the body of Christ – with a few bright spots here and there who have already grown past this.  You see, we reach out to the poor, homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc., and we truly want to love them and bring them to Christ, or to a greater knowledge of Who He is.  Underneath, however, I suspect many of us are judging the very ones we are trying to love.  We know that they have chosen the things that got them into that predicament, so we give with the attitude, “Here’s God’s love.  If you take it, you’ll be better off.  If not, it’s your problem.”  While that may truly be the case, will they be convinced of the reality of God’s love?  Or will they just see another group of people doing what they think they need to do?

I know this is strong, but it’s so important to let the Lord’s heart come to the surface in us so that we will begin to deliver His love – not ours – when we reach out to others.  God sees each of us beyond whatever sins, problems, and mindsets we may have.  He sees past the drugs, adultery, gossip, pornography, etc., though He does, indeed, see them.  He knows that those who have never believed and received His life might choose to continue forever in their ways, but He goes so far past those things as He loves with unconditional love.  He doesn’t look down on them at all, no matter their life choices.  Nor does He look down on us, the ones who have received His Life, though arrogance and pride have been our choice of attitude towards the lost.

We have made a distinction in our minds between those who, through no fault of their own, are in dire straits and those who “got themselves where they are.”  God doesn’t differentiate with His love.  It is always unconditional, for those who are saved and for those who aren’t, for those who make bad choices and for those who make good choices.  Those of us who know Him can love in this very same way, but not in our own strength – for that’s impossible.  We must get so full of His love by choosing time with Him in prayer, getting to know His Life and His character revealed in the Bible and by His Spirit.  It’s only then that our limited fleshly love is overtaken by God’s love – not only for us, but through us, to others!  It’s when we begin to reach out to others in the name of the Lord in this way that we will see permanent kingdom results for the glory of God!