We've all seen him--that old, scruffy guy in the intersection holding a cardboard sign emblazoned with a plea for mercy: "Unemployed, anything helps", it might say, or "Disabled, please help". And while we might roll down our windows and hand over a couple of dollars, or the change in our ash tray; while we might offer to walk over to the nearest 7-Eleven and buy him a sandwich, sometimes less-than-generous thoughts pass through our minds. We think, "Man, just get a job" or "He'll just use the money to get his next fix."
In this week's scripture from James, we are warned not to pass these kinds of judgments on the poor, because God can work through them--bless them--just as he can the rich. He loves us all as his children, rich or poor, and wants us to love each other the same way.
Jesus' ministry was all about this kind of love. We'll hear the story this week of how he met a Gentile woman who was begging for the kind of mercy that only he could give: her daughter "had an unclean spirit", and she knew that Jesus could heal the little girl. Jesus had a strange reaction--he told the woman that "it is wrong for the dogs to eat the food that was meant for the children." She responds by saying that "even the dogs eat the scraps that the children leave behind".
Instead of being affronted, she responds to Jesus with humility. She has a need, and she is not ashamed to beg for Jesus' help. Jesus has pity on her and heals her daughter, even though she is a Gentile.
We are called to this same generosity, but often we fall short. What are some judgments that we pass on those who ask it of us?
We'll use your replies in worship this Sunday, so please post your thoughts in the comments!