Encouragement From The Word

Do unto others

I heard a story the other day about a woman who was in labour, preparing to give birth to her second child. Her husband got her and their young son packed up, so that the son could be delivered to his grandparents’, and so that the woman could be taken to the hospital to deliver their next child! But there was a problem: this happened earlier this week in Buffalo, New York.

In case you missed it, Buffalo, and other parts of New York state close to the Great Lakes, have been hammered with lake-effect snowfall; Buffalo alone had received more than a metre-and-a-half as of Wednesday, with the promise of more yesterday. The photos have been astounding.

So the trip for this young family to get to grandparents’ and hospital was not exactly routine. In fact, with mom in labour, they actually stopped to help a stranded motorist to get out of her car. They brought her into their vehicle and carried on toward the hospital – difficult though that was, with the roads clogged with snow and trapped vehicles.

Soon it became apparent that the baby wasn’t going to wait for the doctor. That child would make her arrival in the car. So the vehicle was stopped, and they prepared for the delivery – stranger and all!

What if they hadn’t stopped to help the stranded woman? Would they have made it to the hospital? In the end, they knew they did the right thing, because this stranded stranger turned out to be a paediatric nurse who specialized in labour and delivery! She was able to give guidance toward the safe arrival of the family’s newborn little girl. And eventually, they made it to the hospital. All are well.

The man had no idea that he was helping someone who would help him and his wife. He stopped to help because it was the right thing to do, irrespective of the outcome – even though he, if anybody, had a good excuse to avoid stopping.

How often are we “too busy” to stop to help someone in need? What could you do today that would make a difference in someone’s life, even though it might not benefit you in any way?

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7.12, NIV).

Encouragement From The Word

Who are you when no one’s looking?

I once heard character defined as ‘who you are when no one is looking.’ I think it’s a pretty apt definition! Our character is, like a watermark on a sheet of paper, an indelible part of who we are in every part of our lives, every day. At a basic level, our character defines us; it defines us more than our family heritage, more than our vocation, and more than our possessions.

This is true of everyone, not just those who follow Jesus. But it is perhaps especially true of Jesus-followers, since we know that our lives cannot be compartmentalized. We cannot be Christians, with the character that involves, on Sunday morning, and something else the rest of the week. It doesn’t work that way. In reality, no one can be one thing at one point and something else another time, and maintain any sense of integrity. Even a chameleon, which can change colours to blend in with its environment and fool predators, is still a chameleon; it doesn’t become a rock, like the one on which it is perched when it changes colour.

I’ve wanted to avoid using this illustration, but I am compelled. The Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, who checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic yesterday, consistently said – after being forced to admit to crack cocaine use – that what he did in his private life did not affect his work as the Mayor of Canada’s largest city.

I willingly admit that I did, at one time, have a fair degree of sympathy for Mr. Ford, but once he started saying things like that, he lost my sympathy and gained my pity. When a human being believes he can be one kind of person with one group of people and another kind of person with another group, there is a disconnect that indicates a loss of grasp on one’s own personal reality.

Frankly, it’s a lot easier to be the same person irrespective of who you hang around with; there’s nothing to hide, and no one is surprised to see you in any other context, because who you are at the root of your character dictates what decisions you will make and what actions you will take.

As a follower of Jesus, does that describe you? Are you a Christian when you drive? When you work? When you hang around with your friends? When you invest?

To be sure, none of us is going to get it all right, all the time; perfection for us is reserved for God’s eternal Kingdom. But the hope is that each of us, as we follow and serve the Lord, will become more like Jesus every day, maintaining consistent character, being known as a follower of Jesus wherever we go and whatever we do. It’s a growth process; let’s be growing in the right direction. Remember the Golden Rule?

Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6.31, NIV).

Good, consistent Christian character goes a long way toward fulfilling it.