“Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do but does not do it, sins.” James 4:17
Earlier this week, a memory from early college came to mind. I was walking into a classroom building and found another student kneeling on the floor of the hall. She was stuffing things into a bookbag with tears streaming down her cheeks. I paused, taking in the scene.
Classes had just let out and many students were crowding the halls, going in and out of the building. Yet, here was this girl, in obvious distress, all alone.
Ashamedly, I was also one who just continued on by.
Almost fifteen years later I still recall the incident, down to the smallest detail. And everytime I recall it, oh, how I wish I had stopped!
Back then I did not know the above verse. I did not realize that by not stopping, I was sinning.
What hinders us from doing good?
Are we afraid of the consequences? That if we stop at a car along the road, someone might hurt us? Do we think we really need to be somewhere else and can not make the time? Do we assign value to certain people and make our decisions based on our own value assessments?
Jesus said that what we do for the least of these, we do for him. (Matthew 25:40)
Someone once asked Mother Theresa how she could continue working with the poorest of the poor every single day. Her reply: “I see Jesus in each one!” We all need her 20/20 vision!
I so desperately wish I could rewrite the events of that day back in college. I would stop. But all I can do is learn from that day. And, when I recall the incident, I pray for that unknown girl. I also pray that I may never repeat my inaction. Could I have let Christ use me to influence her so many years ago? I would love to have tried.
A few years ago, I received an email from a student I knew back in elementary school. I was astonished to hear from him as I had not really ever known him. But what he wrote greatly encouraged me. He wrote to tell me that he wanted to thank me. Back in the sixth grade, our class had a sixth grade dance. He recalled a teacher approaching me and a group of my friends, and then our little group went over to his group and invited them out on the dance floor. He wrote that he has always appreciated that kindness, as those years had been difficult for him.
I was astonished on many levels. First, I did not (and still do not!) recall those events. Second, it had happened over twenty years prior. Had that small gesture really impacted someone so much? And if so, how important that I do not write off the “little things” I could do for someone else each day.
Most Christians are ready to do the right thing when the big issues arise. But sometimes, the smaller things seem well, so small, so insignificant. They are not so insignificant to God. Remember the parable about the master doling out the talents? His response was “Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21) Would it not be wonderful to hear God say those words to us one day?
We never know what work God may have for us each day. Let us not be so consumed in our own worlds that we overlook the opportunity to help someone else. Because those little things truly do have an impact!
Reflection: What obstacles need to be removed from my field of vision for me to see what God has for me today?
Lord willing, the next post will be available on Monday, February 19.