Lets talk hypothetical situations for a minute, shall we? You are walking down the street. You see a man sitting on the ground, his back against a building. Upon first glance, you notice his disheveled appearance, worn clothing, and the grungy backpack sitting close to him. What is your first thought? When you see his face, what or who do you see?
This is where I am learning people differ. And I apologize in advance for my bit of a rant…
Recently, I was reading the book of Job. If you are not familiar with his story, Job was a good, faithful man who had done well in life. In my version of the bible (NLT), he is referred to as “blameless.” Satan approached God and wanted to test Job’s faith. God told him that he could test him in any manner he wanted, but to spare his life. During this process, Job lost all his children, his sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, servants, etc. His body was covered in boils from head to toe. His spirits were down, but his faith never faltered.
How did Job – a man who had everything and then suffered such loss and pain – appear to his friends? Judging by their reaction in this book, Job appeared to have been a man who did some serious sinning… and God was punishing him. They encouraged him to repent. They couldn’t understand – how long was he going to let God punish him without presenting his sins?
But Job, see, he did not have any great sins to ask for forgiveness for… his friends were only making the assumption that he had, based on how Job’s situation appeared. After all, here was a man who was suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, with great loss over and over. He must have done something to deserve this, right?
Now lets stop for a second and look at this:
Assumption: noun. a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
Did you see those last two words? WITHOUT PROOF.
We cannot assume what is true in the lives of others. We cannot assume that if someone is in a place of suffering that they are there due to their own actions or as a result of committed sins. We cannot assume that their current situation is a “punishment.”
Job did not have to suffer because he had sinned. He was being tested by Satan, with Gods permission, and eventually became healthy and happy again. HIS FAITH DID NOT CRUMBLE!
Now lets take this lesson and go back to the initial question. What do you see when you see a broken man sitting on the ground, leaning against a building? Do you assume that he is there because of his sins? Is this his punishment? Is he lazy? Is he an addict? A loser? Or is he even broken at all? Do you see the light shining in his eyes? A light that says he is like Job – full a faith and holding onto that faith because it is all that he has left in his world (which is still greater than many people have)?
He may be at a different place in his life that you are in yours, but that doesn’t make him any less of a human being. That doesn’t mean his needs, his wants, and his desires are any different than yours. We all crave love, compassion, interaction. We need food, shelter, clothing. You, me and the man on the street. The only difference?
Not all of us are in a position to have those things. At the same exact moment, anyways.
Do you know that not everyone understands this? I didn’t. Not until recently. My mind has a hard time comprehending how this happens so I am not sure I am going to be able to elaborate on it as I wanted to. After all, its a SIMPLE situation:
- Man is broken.
- Man is hungry.
- Lets show him he is loved with warmth, care and compassion.
- Show him that he is a person, too.
- And, by all means, lets give the man some food.
How can that thought process not be the same for everyone? Its not about who the person is. Its about seeing a need and filling it. Seeing a person and sharing love — something so easy, simple, and free — but could be the difference between life and death. Do you see it?
Maybe this will give you something to ponder…
The truth is, each person has a story. I have a story. You have a story. The guy sitting across from you has a story. And the homeless woman bundled up under the bridge has a story, too. Each story is unique to the person. Its between you and God. I cannot determine what happens in your life, just as you cannot determine what happens in mine. Making assumptions about someone’s situation in life is JUDGING them… WITHOUT PROOF.
Next time you see someone in need … be a friend. It doesn’t take much to do great things. After all, this could be you one day:
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ~ Ernest Hemingway