About a year ago, I was in the bookstore Chapters and noticed a beggar had positioned himself outside the doors to the store. He was in a wheelchair, wearing dirty clothes, and hadn’t showered in days.
I bought my book and was nervous about leaving because I didn’t want to interact with this stranger. While I could use the excuse I’m shy and an introvert, the reality is I was afraid to interact with this person.
What would I say if he approached me?
What would I do if he attacked me? (I’ll remind you he was in a wheelchair so I don’t know why I thought he could attack me)
As I walked closer to the doors, I noticed he had a slushy drink in his hand. I thought to myself, sure, begging for money to pay for a slushy instead of saving it to go toward getting off the street.
I had no money on me anyway so I exited the other doors to avoid engaging with him.
As I scurried to my car, I noticed a young woman approaching the beggar. She gave him some change and interacted with him. She asked how he was doing, shared a joke and made him laugh.
At this moment, two things happened:
- My heart became warm because this man in dire circumstances laughed and he was genuinely happy for the conversation
- I was ashamed I wasn’t more like that woman. I was fearful of this person just because he was a beggar and I judged him because of it.
James discusses this in the first part of Chapter 2. He speaks about treating people who are poor the same way you would treat the rich. He reminds us we should not judge, and that mercy should be ahead of judgment – always.
He reminds us of the ultimate commandment of ‘loving our neighbours as ourselves’ and if we follow this guideline, we are doing life right.
Jesus didn’t help the rich, he purposely seeks the poor, the outcasts, the shunned, the disabled, and the blind.
James reminds us to follow what Jesus did.
Avoiding the beggar was an eye-opener for me. I say I’m a Christian, but that morning I didn’t act like one. I did not follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
Something to think about
Life is about learning. Furthermore, we are lucky we can learn from our past mistakes and be better.
It’s human nature to judge. Without realizing it we judge people on first glance – what they wear, how they behave, how they speak, and what they do for a living.
God is in everyone and everything.
God was in that beggar and regrettably, I ran away from God.
James’ story and my real life story are examples of the poor, however, the poor could represent anyone – anyone not like you.
Every time you judge or ‘run away’ from someone not like you, you are running away from God.
I am not perfect, but what I can say is, every day I try and treat people equally and avoid judging anyone.
Every day I work at running toward God instead of running away from God.
What direction are you running in?