Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Eye of Mercy

A 75 year old woman stopped to pick me up today. I didn’t ask for her driver’s license or anything, so it’s just a guess. Maybe she was only 73.5.

In an effort to get a little more exercise in my daily routine I have been walking more around town as of late. Today, I was walking from my home to my study at our church building, only about ¼ of a mile away.

I can count on one hand the times people have stopped to give me a ride since I’ve been walking to the church building (almost a year and a half now). I remember one time our current Mayor stopped and was very friendly. A few others have stopped here or there to ask if I needed a ride.

This isn’t really about people giving me a ride because I don’t need a ride. I want to walk. Look, I’m 5’11” and about 250 pounds. I’ve got a beard that may either come across as intimidating or just makes me look like a vagabond (I’ve actually been told the latter). All that to say, I don’t really expect anyone to look at me and think “Maybe it’d be a good idea to stop and give this red-bearded stranger a ride.”

But then you have this lady. Two and half times my age and probably weighing in at 130 pounds less than I do. If I were to be someone wanting to overpower her and take her purse, or car, well, I’m not really trying to brag on my physical prowess, but it wouldn’t be a contest. And then she stopped. Right there on the main highway and she began to clear out her front seat so that there would be room for me to sit.

I don’t know why, perhaps it’s because of the passage I’m working through for this week’s sermon, but her act really moved my heart today. Of course, I told her I was just walking down the road a little further and didn’t need a ride. I thanked her, and she drove on, probably to never really think about the encounter ever again. Little did she know that her act would make it into a blog post, a sermon illustration, and my heart!

About that passage I’m working on…Here’s what Jesus says in Matthew 6:22-23:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

This is actually one of the more difficult passages I think in the Sermon on the Mount, and something I’m still working through on what Jesus actually means. But, these verses are jammed between two other passages that deal with material possessions. So, while I’m sure there’s some application about us not looking at pornography or other wickedness, I can’t help but feel rather strongly that perhaps the main application here is to be wary of our lust for wealth and possessions.

How does this connect to what happened to me today? A woman, who saw a traveler (I wear a backpack with my books and things in it) walking down a busy highway stopped to give him a ride. Not thinking of her time, her gas, and not to overstretch this, but not even thinking of her life. She saw someone in need, and stopped. She had several excuses not to stop (some pretty legitimate ones I think) but she stopped anyway.

Look, I don’t even know if this lady was a Christian, but I think that her action may help illustrate part of the application of this text. Let our eyes be fixed upon our Master (see v.24) and His Kingdom. When our eye is healthy we will be less desirous of asking those self “preservatory” type questions. Questions that enter our hearts like ‘What is this going to cost me?’, ‘How does this fit in with my agenda?’, and ‘Why can’t somebody else deal with this’?

Again, this isn’t a plea to go pick up hitchhikers. It’s a plea to have an eye of mercy. An eye focused on Christ is an eye that will seek opportunity to show compassion. When our eye is fixed upon Powerball winnings, and daydreaming about what we could do with more money…Or when our eyes feast upon the affluence in our society…Or when our eyes hunger for what our neighbors and coworkers have that we don’t have…When our eyes wander toward these things, our hearts follow. If this isn’t dealt with the result is a severe lack of generosity.

I know, I know. You have excuses on why you’re not more generous than you are. But, my simple desire for you this day is to set your eyes upon the Generous One. The One who gave us the unspeakable gift. Run with endurance the race that is set before you, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

Consider that if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, and if the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

It’s risky to stop the car for someone you don’t know on the road of life. But I’m comfortable saying that those with their eyes on Jesus are risk takers.

Trust Him.

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