“Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy…” – Matthew 23:28
Question for the Day: Am I really what I claim to be?
This month we have been looking and praying for the mission activities going on in our church. But today my heart is grieved, and I cannot, in good conscience, speak of any mission activities of which I am a part. Today, I have been struck with the realization that I , in contrast to what I say, do not have a heart for those in need. I fear that I am no better than the religious leaders that Jesus contended with. This scripture has struck my heart today in such a manifest way, that I honestly am immobilized, and do not know how to proceed. I ask for your prayers.
I am spending the week in San Francisco. My beloved, Don, is here for a conference and I tagged along for some fun. Every day, as he strolls off to work, I pack my bag and head out into the city to explore and sight-see. It is a beautiful place, with all sorts of things to see and do. The streets are filled with all sorts of people – including the homeless.
See, the homeless people here are numerous and very outspoken in asking for help. They make it incredibly difficult to pass by without noticing them. And yet, like so many others, I do.
I don’t have any money to give them, I am traveling pretty much cashless at this point. But the thing that bothers me the most is that I don’t want to see them. I try to avoid them whenever possible. I looked one man in the eye today and said, “I am sorry, I don’t have anything to give you.” But the look in his eyes said it all, “You lie.” And he was right. I might not have any money to give, but I could have certainly bought him some breakfast and taken it to him.
So why didn’t I? I call myself a follower of Christ, and yet, I refuse to do the one thing that He has asked of me. I talk about missions, and feeding the hungry, but the fact is, I only want to do those things on my time table and in my comfort zone. Do you know what that makes me? A Pharisee.
I even visited a beautiful down-town cathedral yesterday. And when I read about their ministry to hundreds of homeless each day, I thought to myself, “What a wonderful job they are doing in Christian outreach.” If that isn’t hypocritical, then I don’t know what is!
Now, I am really good at coming up with all the good excuses: “They only want money for alcohol, or drugs.” “He isn’t really homeless, this is a game he is running on unsuspecting tourists.” There are plenty of places they can go for help, they don’t really need mine.”
I grant you, many of these statements may be true. But if God didn’t expect me to do something myself, why would I be under such a spirit of conviction right now? Maybe its not the street people He is trying to help. Maybe it’s me.
I am called to be more than this, but there is something in my heart that is stopping me. Is it fear? or self-centeredness? or ambivalence? I can’t put my finger on it, but I know one thing: It grieves the heart of my Lord.
I have 3 more days left here. I can choose to stay sequestered in my hotel, and pretend that everything is ok and I am still a good person. Or I can go back out into the streets and be the person God is calling me to be. At this point, I honestly don’t know what I will do. I am certainly a person in need of some Holy Spirit leading.
Thanks for listening and for your prayers, my friends.
I confess that I have heard the cry of the needy, and I have chosen not to respond. Forgive me for walking by those in need of help. Create in me a clean heart, one filled with compassion and a desire to do Your will. Give me a soft place for those I encounter, and an open hand to give whatever I can to help them. Lead me into being more Christ-like, for I am nothing like Him now.
Have mercy on me, Dear Jesus, a sinner.
In the name of the Son I pray,