What's that I smell?
The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." -Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
When my kids were teenagers, it was not unusual to experience some drama around the house. I remember a time when one of my sons attended a party where some questionable activities were going on. When my wife learned of this, she interrogated the suspect in a way that would've made Rudy Giuliani proud. Upon securing a confession that yes, he had indeed been present in the location, and yes, certain "recreational" behaviors had occurred while he was there, she dropped the hammer. In an episode that was uncharacteristically harsh for her (I was normally the "bad cop"), she allowed no excuse, no rebuttal, no explanation as he received his comeuppance.
In my estimation, it looked like a fine example of good parenting - strict but fair, with a lecture about earning trust and exercising good judgment, ending with a two-week grounding from all social contact. One small problem: Our son had not gone to the party to participate, but to ensure the safety of a friend who was determined to attend the event. In fact, he had removed his friend from the premises before the party ended, driving him to a safe place to clear his head before delivering him to his parents' house to sleep off an evening of poor decisions. The friend awoke the following day to a "Dude, where's my car?" moment, but he woke up.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. -Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
Things are not always as they appear. Even when they are, what we see is hardly ever the whole story. In talking about who we should convoy, there are some obvious answers to the question. After all, charity begins at home, right? But does it end there?
We've talked about shining a light, and how light does not discriminate - it shines on everybody that comes near. Paul talked about our influence in terms of carrying the aroma of Christ around with us. To some, that aroma will stink like something dead. But to others, it will be the sweet smell of life, a hint of hope from a source they did not expect.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? -2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (ESV)
I want to encourage you in two things today:
Don't sell yourself short. If we've been abiding with the Savior, we’re gonna have that smell on us. We have something worthwhile to offer the people around us.
Don't sell the other guy short. It isn’t right to disqualify him based on appearances. Engage the conversation. Hear his story and see where the Spirit leads.
The rest of my son's story? He wasn’t grounded that day. And his friend ended up becoming a Christian.
You just never know....