I don’t love people enough.So often I realize that I can be so selfish and self centered.I pray for God to help me love people more, to help me have that compassion I am supposed to have, help me love and lead others well so they see Jesus and not just this crazy woman. Ultimately loving people more than self is a day by day, moment by moment decision and sometimes that decision is a hard one to make.
Being others minded instead of selfishness is straight from the heart of God.Below is a story from Pastor Jim Cymbala from his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. I hope that it breaks your heart and touches you just as much as it did our team.
A homeless man was standing in the back of the church, listening intently. At the end of the evening meeting I sat down on the edge of the platform, exhausted, as others continued to pray with those who had responded to Christ. I wanted to relax. I was just starting to unwind when I looked up to see this man, with shabby clothing and matted hair, standing in the center aisle about four rows back and waiting for permission to approach me. I nodded and gave him a weak little wave of my hand Look at how this Sunday is going to end, I thought to myself. He’s going to hit me up for money. That happens often in this church.
I’m so tired….
When he came close, I saw that his two front teeth were missing. But more striking was his odor— the mixture of alcohol, sweat, urine, and garbage took my breath away. I have been around many street people, but this was the strongest stench I have ever encountered. I instinctively had to turn my head sideways to inhale, then look back in his direction while breathing out.
I asked his name.
“David,” he said softly.
“How long have you been homeless, David?”
“Where did you sleep last night?”
“In an abandoned truck.”
I had heard enough and wanted to get this over quickly. I reached for the money clip in my back pocket. At that moment David put his finger in front of my face and said, “No, you don’t understand— I don’t want your money. I’m going to die out there. I want the Jesus you talked about.” I hesitated, then closed my eyes God, forgive me, I begged. Me, a minister of the gospel … I had wanted simply to get rid of him, when he was crying out for the help of Christ I had just preached about. I swallowed hard as God’s love flooded my soul.
David sensed the change in me. He moved toward me and fell on my chest, burying his grimy head against my white shirt and tie. Holding him close, I talked to him about Jesus’ love. These weren’t just words; I felt them. I felt love for this pitiful young man. And that smell … I don’t know how to explain it. It had almost made me sick, but now it became the most beautiful fragrance to me. I reveled in what had been repulsive just a moment ago. The Lord seemed to say to me in that instant, Jim, if you and your wife have any value to me, if you have any purpose in my work— it has to do with this odor. This is the smell of the world I died for.
David surrendered to the Christ he heard about that night. We got him into a hospital detoxification unit for a week. We got his teeth fixed. He joined the Prayer Band right away. He spent the next Thanksgiving Day in our home. We invited him back for Christmas as well. I will never forget his present to me. Inside a little box was … one handkerchief. It was all he could afford.
Today David heads up the maintenance department at the church, overseeing ten other employees. He is now married and a father. God is opening more and more doors for him to go out and give his testimony. When he speaks, his words have a weight and an impact that many ordained ministers would covet.