19 … A friend of publicans and sinners.
I love reading the Gospels. I love seeing the different things that God anointed these four men to write, the events that they all shared, and those occasions that only one or two mentioned. It is my heart felt belief that everything in The Bible, whether written or not written, was for a purpose. If God placed something in The Bible, it’s important. Those times that He chose not to say something, are equally important.
As I was reading, a question came to mind, “How many times have I missed saying something to someone.” The only difference is, they were anointed to write, and anointed not to write certain things. Too often, I simply fail to share what I’ve been anointed to take to a hurting world. How many words of encouragement have I failed to give?
Oh, there are at least a hundred excuses, I was tired, I was sick, I was in a hurry. The Robin Williams tragedy is still fresh in my mind. I don’t pretend to understand the struggles that he faced, nor do I judge him. I wonder though, how many struggling people have I ignored? What opening to reduce their struggle did I miss?
I was guilty of hurrying through a conversation just last night. I intend to remedy that, but how many times did I do this without knowing? This article isn’t meant to discourage, or condemn, just point out an opening to possibilities.
Today, someone is hurting, someone is sad. Maybe someone is even angry, bitter, or lonely. I don’t have to solve their problems, they’re not asking for me to. They may just need a smile, a set of ears, and a heart that cares. I know how to smile, my ears work, and I do care about them.
We don’t have to have big ideas, we have a great big God. He knows how to do all things, but He says, “Let me take care of the big things. You just do the little things.” The little things, that we can do, a cup of water or coffee, a kind word. In short, be a friend.
Friendship is underrated, and the term is overused. We have acquaintances in life that we call friends, and friends that we show little care too. “They’ll understand, they’re my friend.” “Don’t worry about how grumpy you were. He’s your friend, he’ll understand.” “He knows your friend, he knows you didn’t have time to talk.”
Jesus literally made time for His friends. Before it existed, He created it so He could place man in the garden. Time was made before the fall, before Adam, and before Eve. Time isn’t evil, we redeem the time, not because it’s evil, but because the days are. Sometimes, we must redeem the time.
Lord, help me to make time for my friends, and to take the time to make friends with the hurting. Those that need someone who cares about them, to know that they’ve got a person in their corner. You don’t have to be another Stallone to stand in the corner, he was content with a short old man named Mickey in his. For my younger readers, Jimmy Fallon is no Justin Timberlake, but Timberlake likes standing beside him.
Stand beside someone today, be in their corner, be their friend. Don’t miss an opportunity to introduce yourself to that person who is up a tree and out on a limb. That’s how Jesus met Zacchaeus, and it changed the publican’s life forever. It wasn’t a coincidence though, The Lord came looking for Him.
The Lord was looking for a Zacchaeus, and he was looking for Jesus. Jesus didn’t only look for those who were looking for Him. He searched out those who weren’t reaching out to Him. Just a few examples are the woman at the well, the man at the pool of Siloam, and so many of us.
Too often, I think our problem is we’re not looking. It’s not intentional, but in the midst of busy lives, we ignore the purpose of our lives. As a Christian, my number one calling is love God, and to share His love with others. We think we do pretty well with the first part, but if we’re not fulfilling the second, we’re really lacking in both areas.
One of the greatest lessons our Lead Pastor Denny Livingston has ever taught us is simply this, look for someone that’s hurting. Search out a person that needs your kindness, not your message. Give them your kindness, and they will ask for your message. It may not be verbally, but they will read you.
They will know that you are real, that you’re different, and that you have something that they need. That’s how so many came to Jesus, and never left Him. Will you be hurt? Oh yes. Taken advantage of? Most definitely! He was, but He still opened His arms wide, even as they were bleeding. His enemies didn’t betray Him, His friend did. At the same time, when He needed someone to care for His mother, in the midst of His pain, His true friend was there.
One of the greatest titles that Jesus was ever given was when He was called a friend of publicans and sinners, I pray we make the time, so the same can be said of us. It won’t always be easy, but we were never promised easy. Besides, if everything was easy, we’d only complain about the lack of challenge in our lives. Along the way, they’ll be some rejection, a few conflicts, and some battles. At the end though, if you’re able to stand beside one friend that you’ve brought to Jesus, it’ll be worth all the time in the world.