Hope & Mercy for All - Russ Isom

This past week on my way to visit my sister, I noticed a person huddled up with their belongings in the heavy rain. They were soaked, alone, without a place to be safe and warm. My first thought was, “What happened in their life that brought them to this situation?” My second thought was, “Thank you, Lord, that I am not in their shoes.” And then, came the thought, “As a follower of Jesus, what should my response be?”

It shames me to admit that over the years, whenever I saw a person who was struggling to make ends meet, my initial response was to assume a superior attitude—“They brought this on themselves.” Yet, I really did not know their story. Here’s how God is dealing with me in this area:

Genesis 1:26-27 gives God’s view. We are all created in God’s image. Every human life is sacred, and every person needs dignity, because their value is established by their Creator. That value should be respected. This truth honors my neighbor with certain rights. Protection from assaults, cheating, murder. Rights to be treated with fairness and respect.

Of late, I have had several opportunities to become acquainted with people who do not live in a safe and affirming environment. Some are well-educated. Some never dreamed they would be in their positions. Listening to them opens my eyes to their realities. Many of my assumptions are inaccurate! To understand someone’s story promotes empathy for their situation. I am asking God to show me how to respect the people where they are, and how to learn from them. I no longer think I can simply fix them like a mechanical object.

Heart-changing Scriptures lead me away from self-made flattery, and judgmental airs. Check out King David’s words:

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us.” (1 Chronicles 29:11-14)

If you find yourself in a similar head space, I would encourage you to pray this prayer, or your own verbiage of it, when you catch yourself in the seat of judgement over others:

O Lord, thank you and praise your Name! Lead us away from self-justifying thoughts about those who are poor, and help us be mindful of their pain. Show us how to express compassion, appropriate for their needs. May our thoughts, words and actions reflect your message of hope and mercy to all people.

Russ Isom
Care Pastor | Hope City Church