Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"1 (Lyrics)
Isaiah 58:7 – Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (NIV)
Matthew 25:40 – The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (NIV)
Ade, my then two-year-old granddaughter ran up the ramp to the front entrance of the church. As she did so, she stopped and looked into the manger beside the doorway. Horror registered on her face at what she saw. "Oh, Grammy," she cried, "The baby is cold. It has snow on its head and face. The baby is cold," she repeated as she frantically worked to brush the snow from the doll's hair, face, and blanket. "So cold," she stated again. Looking at her earnest and compassionate face, I agreed with her that yes, the baby was cold and she needed to talk to the pastor about it, which she did.
The pastor kindly listened to her story, as did the rest of our little congregation. And as she told it, although her words could not convey this thought, her look said it all: "What's wrong with you people anyway, leaving a baby out in the cold?!"
After hearing about the cold baby, the pastor agreed that leaving the baby in the cold was not a good thing and proceeded to ask Ade if she would go out and bring the baby in, make it warm, and care for it during the service. It was also decided, so as to set a good example for a two-year-old in regards to caring for others, that the baby would stay inside, wrapped in its blankets for the rest of that Christmas season.
This incident brought to mind today's words from Isaiah and from Jesus concerning how we are to treat the poor, the homeless, the downtrodden, friends, neighbours, and especially our own family who may be going through a hard time: with giving compassion. It is not enough to just pray for those in need; we must also act, which is sometimes hard to do. We live in a day and age where people and groups are always asking us for money to help someone out. Because we are asked so often, while we ourselves are seeing the needy around us, without even realizing it, our hearts can become immune to the pleas and the needs. We assure ourselves that we could not help everybody all the time, or pretty soon, we would be in the same predicament ourselves.
Yet, I must ask myself, can I do more? I must remember to ask God for the wisdom to know how to do more. I must remember that I can never outgive God. I am called to be a generous giver. I must also ask the Lord to keep my heart from becoming immune to the many needs around me, so that I might not become hard-hearted and uncaring. Lastly, we must all pray that those around us never have cause to look at us and say by the expression on their face, "What's wrong with you people anyway?"
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the many opportunities around us daily to be cheerful and generous givers, to share our food with the hungry, to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, to clothe the homeless, and not to turn away from our own flesh and blood. Keep our hearts from becoming immune to the many in need whom we may be called upon and able to help. In Christ's name, we ask. Amen.