I’ll never forget Maria. I pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot on my usual errands. A family standing with a sign at the back of the parking lot caught my eye. The man held a cardboard sign, with his wife and two little girls. My heart started beating faster and I knew I needed to go talk with them. As I thought quickly, my plan was to ask them what they needed, then go buy it for them. But the man, who spoke English more fluently than his wife, asked if his wife could go in with me. Wonderful idea! Maria and I could barely communicate at all, as she spoke little English, and I had only taken Spanish in high school. We walked around, adding shampoo, diapers, and yogurt to the cart. Then we checked out. We hugged, she kissed my cheek, and we said goodbye as she returned to her family. It was a special chance to connect with this mom who was not so different from me! I am confident Jesus nudged my heart with courage to reach out that day.
Focusing on our differences blocks us from seeing people. Humility says, “I am more similar to you than different.” Humility gives us courage to reach out with the kind of love Jesus showed in his earthly life. Nothing separated him from loving people. Though he was God, he was humble to come to earth as a human and serve us (Philippians 2:7). From God’s perspective, humans are much more similar than different: loved by Him, created amazingly, in need of forgiveness and broken, but still beautiful. Remembering this keeps our differences in perspective.
Sometime later my daughter Aubrey and I had another opportunity to be humble and reach out. One day her heart was moved with compassion as we drove past a homeless man. Tears flowed from my eight-year-old’s eyes as she asked, “Couldn’t we do something for him?” So Aubrey and I went to Target. Thankfully, I had saved a Homeless Care Package list on my phone in Google Keep. We rushed around grabbing items. She was so excited! I was thankful the man was still there when we returned so we could connect with him.
Humble love steps out and reaches out. Taking action grows our courage and love for other people. We remember our shared humanity, and that motivates us. I felt nervous as I walked over to the family! I felt nervous to talk with the homeless man! This is normal the first time we do anything. But, as we take a step, we grow. After doing it once, we can do it again more easily. And we can improve on it as we learn and try new things. But we must be bold to take the first awkward step!
Humble love points back to Jesus. First we see a person, then we serve, then we point to Jesus. With the people in the stories above, I put in words, “We want to share this with the love of Jesus.” I want to show love first, and then follow it with words. This allows people to experience the love of Jesus through my life.
I share these stories with the hope you’ll be encouraged to take an opportunity to reach out as well! What we gave was small in perspective; but it was a way we could see people, have compassion, and take action to meet today’s need. Humility. Love. Courage. With these attitudes, every small gift we give is a service we do for Jesus:
” ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ ” ~ Matthew 25: 35-37, 40 (ESV)
Here’s a Homeless Care Package list so you can make one, too.
Look for and act on the opportunity to reach out to someone with humility, love, and courage!