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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Getting To Know People

“A pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself,
but a spiritual man is easy on others
and hard on himself.”
by A.W.Tozer

I knew a man who was considered to be a heathen by some folks. They would call him on the phone to invite him to church, go to his work with the intention of "ministering" to him, his face was plastered on their bulletin board of unsaved persons, and they would lift up prayers for his salvation. He was preached to and had scripture thrown at him as though that would change his mind. They often spoke about how much good he would do for the kingdom if he would only get saved and serve at their church.

He was a busy fellow with lots of stamina. He was the one to call if you wanted to get the job done. He had already retired twice, once from the marine corps and once from the post office -over 46 years of service in all- and he still would not take a break. He went back to work. This time at a hospital supply company. He had a wife, a son and daughter-in-law, three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

He was definitely a man of few words. He listened intently and I never once saw him get angry. He filled his days with thoughts of others. He saved all of his lunch money to purchase gifts for his family to surprise them - for no reason. He bought the first car for each of his grandchildren and taught them to drive. He nursed his near dying wife back to health after she suffered massive injuries in a car accident. He spent every day of 43 days by her bedside until he could bring her home.

He would buy gifts at Christmas time for the children of strangers and leave them on their doorstep because their parents had no money. He slipped $20 bills into the jackets of people he'd heard mention that they were short on cash. He wrote letters to people no one else cared about. These were people he had met on the street and gotten to know while delivering the mail on his route. He was often quoted as saying, "never loan something to someone that you wouldn't freely give to them" and he gave often. He was a man of his word but some people just never listened to him.

It wasn't until his untimely death that his love for Jesus and all of the untold deeds were found in his journal and the numerous donations to charity and the financial security plans he had made for his wife were discovered. He kept working all those years to help others who needed it. Many that he had helped along the way came to say their goodbyes. The stories were numerous and we still hear them to this day. He had never said anything to anyone except that he thought he could do more.

Oddly enough, the same folks that tried week after week to get him "saved" quit coming around when he could no longer speak or walk from the brain tumor. When they heard of his death they apologized to the family because the assumed this man had gone to hell. ... twas not true.

This man was an avid seeker of God and never did strive to bring attention to himself. He walked with God during the day and he taught this same foundation of faith to his family. His beliefs and faith were proclaimed heavily through his writings and heritage preservation books. He prayed for those who came to visit and he never judged them. He just wasn't interested in joining their church. He knew God wasn't in a building and he knew his wife, who had medical conditions that prevented her from leaving home for more than an hour at time, would prefer for him to be with her on his two days off. These folks didn't know this because they didnt' ask. They assumed. They were wrong.

They didn't even know his wife was sick.

This man was my grandfather. Those people? Christians that I loved and admired. They were people I trusted. Somewhere along the way they stopped getting to know people. They stopped forming relationships. They quit trying to reach the masses and settled for those they deemed worthy. Is that what Jesus died for?

Religion is man made. God is spiritual. He does not like hypocrisy.

"And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye."
Luke 6:41-42 NKJV

It wasn't until my grandfather's death that I began to understand just how self-righteous I had become. I'd made my own assumptions about people. I had quit forming relationships. I quit listening. I quit loving.

I was wrong.

Our mission is to love others in spite of our perception of them; in spite of their sin. Isn't that what Jesus did for us? He got to know the person. He loved the person. He knew that in order for a person to change they had to commit with their heart. No matter how much talking we do it will never accomplish what a simple act of love can demonstrate to the heart of a person. There is no greater way to share the gospel than to live it and others would have known my grandfather's heart if they had only asked or showed him love.

Today, show love to someone you never would have shown love to before. When you see the twinkle in their eye then you will know you have reached in and touched the very core of their being and that is where the Lord resides.

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
Matthew 25:40 NKJ

I'd love for you to visit me at my personal blog: In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

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Blogger Denise said...

Such a precious post.

December 24, 2008 at 3:21 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

I loved your opening quote - that's one for me to record in my prayer journal! Thanks!

December 24, 2008 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger a woman found said...

I love that quote by Tozer, and your story is both convicting and reassuring. I don't want to stop loving, or listening.

Merry Christmas,

December 24, 2008 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Betsy Markman said...

This is incredibly powerful and convicting. Spiritual pride is such a horrible thing, and it's possible to be chock full of it and not even realize it.

Lord, forgive us, and please grant us truly humble hearts!

December 24, 2008 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Today's Christian Mom~ said...

What a blessing he was! Truly an angel on earth.

December 24, 2008 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Joanie said...

Thank you for a wonderful tribute and a lesson learned.

December 24, 2008 at 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So touching and revealing! Thank you for this beautiful story!

December 25, 2008 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger BizzieLizzie said...

Merry Christmas Amy! Your story is perfect timing. Thank you for sharing!!

December 25, 2008 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger LisaE said...

While getting ready for Christmas I put my internet cafe e-mails on hold with intentions of reading them when I could soak them in. So glad I did. This story was both heartbreaking and inspiring...just the way Jesus handles our hearts. Thanks so much! Such a lesson.

December 27, 2008 at 3:57 PM  
Blogger ktwalden said...

Such a wonderful story with a deep and convicting message! This past year the Lord has been dealing with me about looking at people and situations with my heart instead of just with my eyes. Your post really blessed me! Thank you....

December 30, 2008 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Buffy said...

We just can't help judging others, even though we are so little equipped. What can we possibly know of their true relationship with God or the struggles of their lives? Thank you for this moving and convicting post.

January 8, 2009 at 8:56 AM  

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