Lord, Who IS Our Neighbor?
Her clothes were tattered and stained, but not dirty. The auburn hair sticking out of her woolen cap was frizzy and wild.
She wanted to know if we’d spend $2.50 for one of her homemade Christmas candles.
“I’m out of work and need to care for my two children,” the woman explained, holding an aluminum tray stacked with an assortment of candles she made.
Late for the Theatre, we smiled politely and walked swiftly by.
“Please, they’re scented,” she pleaded.
“Not today,” one of the members in our group halfheartedly answered back. Since I didn’t know how to refuse this woman, I am ashamed that I was relieved by this curt response.
Pacing along with the crowd, I quickly turned back and glanced towards the woman. As I caught sight of her desperate demeanor, I felt her despair, but, recalling our plans, I instantly forgot.
The “silence” between us was deafening until one of us finally spoke.
“You know, you’d go broke if you helped out everyone,” I offered with an awkward laugh, already feeling so guilty I wanted to throw up.
“But we are supposed to help our neighbor…” I added with useless guilt compounding useless guilt.
“Well, who IS our neighbor?” one of the others asked rhetorically, doing a very good imitation of my guilty conscience.
“Anyone. Everyone.” someone volunteered.
“Aw, she could have been lying. I bet she was! How do we know that money is for her kids? How do we know she has any kids,” rationalized another.
“As Christians, we are supposed to help those in need and what they do with our help is between them and God.”
Guilt thickly permeated the air. Somehow, the Theatre was no longer important.
We weren’t off the hook and we knew it.
“We blew it,” I said, hoping someone would convince me otherwise.
“We probably did,” one of the others said, helping not at all.
“Maybe we should go back to her,” someone suggested.
“She could be us, she could be anyone,” someone said.
“Guilt doesn’t help, what’s done is done,” I heard someone say.
“We could have all managed to give her the lousy $2.50. We didn’t even have to take a candle. We could have just given him the money,” another said.
“No, no, there must be a reason that we all decided to walk on by,” I desperately said. If truth be known, my reason had been completely selfish; I didn’t want to be late for the show.
Someone said she’d been taken advantage of so many times. Someone else said she had been too. Everyone had been, but what difference did that make, another asked? What if this woman really needed help?
We could have helped and didn’t, that is all there was to it.
We couldn’t fix it. Not this time.
As we soberly walked into the Theatre, repentantly I silently prayed the following:
Make a new heart in me, My God! Create it out of Your Pureness! (2 Cor. 5:17) Make my heart brand new so that it is totally pure and without anything bad. Dear God, make a new and faithful spirit inside of me. Give me Your Holy Spirit that I may be faithful to You in all things!! (John 3:1-21) Have my heart stick to You no matter what comes my way!!
Dear Lord, this Christmas Season please fill each of us with Your Holy Spirit and change within us that which is in need of being changed so that we can truly live as You’ve designed us to live … God be with all of us this Christmas Season and always!
Video: Donnie McClurkin: Create In Me A Clean Heart
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”