Alternate titles: Least of These, or Dang Goats, or For Me
I went to sleep tonight at about midnight, praying and ruminating on my disappointment. I am disappointed in myself. I am disappointed in other Christians. I’m really not disappointed in God, but maybe I’m just missing that. I’ve had my fair share of trials, but I’ve still considered my faith in Him to be a precious thing despite circumstance and idiocy. But tonight, I kept drifting in and out of sleep and in and out of prayer. Then as thoughts do when falling asleep, they began to meander. I started thinking about writing a song called “Didn’t Do” concerning people who see need and don’t do anything about it, when the last lines to an old song by Keith Green popped into my head. “The only difference between the sheep and the goats…. is what they did… and didn’t…. do. (insert insanely talented piano playing)”
That’s when it hit me. EVERY time someone comes into our paths and God shows us their pain or they express their pain and we IGNORE them, we are guilty of being a goat and are in danger of eternal punishment. In Matthew 25, Jesus was talking more than just the obvious “hungry”, “thirsty”, “stranger”, “naked”, and “prisoner”. A lot of times our minds will show us the obvious homeless person who has no roof over their head or food for their stomach. We absolutely should help fill their needs. Jesus was going beyond that though. He was saying ANYONE that comes into our path, (to quote “these brothers and sisters of mine”,) we are to be mindful of their struggle and fill whatever need is in their life. But wouldn’t that be strenuous to help EVERY person in need that comes our way?
In some ways, absolutely. We only have so much vitality and resources, but what we have we should give. Not out of a guilt trip, but being “moved with compassion” enough to help them, much like Jesus was. Reading through the Gospels it is obvious that Christ not only helped the tangible problems that people had, such as disease and lack of facilities, but He also ministered to people’s emotional and spiritual conditions. But our society shuns these things. We pity the blind, deaf and mute. We help those who are literally hungry, thirsty, naked, etc. (And rightly so, especially if done anonymously and without expecting a pat on the back.) But if someone is bitter- we run. If someone is hurting emotionally and they haven’t been able to heal from our token “I’ll be praying for you”- we run. What would happen if we took it a step farther? What if we did more than just judge them from a distance and say a cheap half-hearted prayer for them? What if ONE person actually went out of their way to love on them and be a friend to them? Usually it takes just one, but true to society we often tend to allow someone else to do the dirty work.
When I took Psychology 101 in college, I was fascinated by the professional opinion that people will do more in an emergency situation if they are alone than if there are other people around. If someone else is there, they will automatically assume that another person will act the hero. I was left thinking on what causes it: laziness? insecurity? panic? lack of compassion?
What if we decided to play hero- not for acclaim or attention, but out of sincere love? Jesus said that the world will know us by our love, but we suck at it. We really do. We are self-centered. We are egotistical. We are failing. (Grace.) But what kind of example are we if we don’t love? What kind of light? What makes us different from anyone else out there? I really feel that the extra measures taken to love the annoyingly unlovely will make a difference. All the people that come into our path are there for a reason. Each one of them has some sort of beauty within them. What are we waiting for? Are we too lazy? Do we not care enough? Are we too panicked? Do we feel that someone else would be better equipped to handle the situation? I CAN GUARANTEE THAT THE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY MAKES A MOVE TO LOVE IS THE MOST EQUIPPED PERSON TO HELP. THE PERSON THERE, REGARDLESS OF SHORTCOMINGS OR DOWNFALLS, WILL BE SOMEONE’S HERO AND THE HAND THAT HELPS THEM OUT OF THE PIT OF THEIR SITUATION.
I want to try really hard to make sure that I’m really listening to what God wants me to do and not just acting like it. Sheep and goats sound the same, but sheep know the voice of the shepherd and goats stubbornly keep on doing whatever the heck they want to. If I find myself unable to help, I’d better take a deep look into my heart to see why. Am I harboring unforgiveness towards this person? Am I thinking less of myself than you should? For Him, I keep on going. A little love goes a long way.