It Only Takes One…

I was in the car yesterday at a stoplight while out running errands.  As I looked out my window, I saw a woman there with a sign asking for a donation.  I reached into my wallet to pull out my solitary dollar (I tend to use check cards so I don’t carry much cash), then I beckoned the woman over.  I actually had to wait as the truck in front of me was doing the same thing.  She came, got my dollar, then I noticed that the person behind me was giving as well and it made me think back to other times I’d given to someone on the street.  It seems to me that if one persons starts the process, then other people tend to pick up on the moment and give as well.  Perhaps they already had it in mind to do so…perhaps it was guilt, or peer pressure….  Who knows?  But I know the end result is that the person was helped.

Now I know there are myriad reasons for not wanting to give money to a person on the street corner and I will admit that those thoughts cross my mind as well, but the bottom line is we are told to give to those in need.  Period.  I won’t beat a dead horse here, but I will say that I just make it my policy to give and not question the motives of the receiver.  That is between God and them as far as I am concerned.  What I tend to think of is:

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 when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  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 25:35-40 ESV)

Remember, an enormous chain of events can start with a single action.  Will you be the one to start it all?


Disobedience and Mercy…

We all know that our actions, for good or for ill, have consequences.  The Bible is full of examples of this, but I want to focus on two examples: one of disobedience and one of mercy.

Israel looked at the nations around her and, not content to be led by the prophet Samuel, decided they wanted a King.  Though advised against such a desire, God relented and appointed Saul, son of Kish to rule over them.  Saul was instructed to destroy the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:7-28), but he did not.  In disobedience, Saul spared the King and the best of the flocks.  His disobedience cost him dearly!

Fast forward several years into the future.  Absalom, David’s son, revolts and David is leaving into exile.  Shimei, a man belonging to the family of the house of Saul was yelling curses as David approached (2 Sam 16:5-13, 19:16-23).  He even went to far as to throw stones at David, all the royal servants, the people and the warriors.  His soldiers wanted to kill Shimei for the offenses, but David thoughtfully refrained. He showed mercy.

Now, let us examine the consequences of these two actions. To do so, we need to look at the Hadassah’s story (Book of Esther).  Here’s a brief summary (read the book, it will not take you long):

  • The Book of Esther can be divided into three main sections.  Chapters 1:1-2:18 – Hadassah (a.k.a. Esther) replaces Queen Vashti; 2:19-7:10 – Mordecai overcomes Haman; 8:1-10:3 – Israel survives Haman’s attempt to destroy them.  The noble Esther risked her own death as she realized what was at stake.  She willingly did what could have been a deadly maneuver and took on the second in command of her husband’s kingdom, Haman.  She proved a wise and most worthy opponent, all the while remaining humble and respectful of the position of her husband-king.

Let us turn our attention to two integral persons in this event: Mordecai and Haman.  Haman was hell-bent upon the destruction of the Jews, not just in his city, but throughout the entire Persian kingdom!  Mordecai adopted Hadassah as his own in her parents absence and was instrumental in raising this gem of a girl who would one day become a queen and save her people.  Here’s the rub: Haman was a descendant of the Amalekite king who should have been destroyed had Saul obeyed his orders to destroy all of the Amalekites.  But, because he didn’t, the very fate of Israel was at stake.  Mordecai, on the other hand, was a direct descendant of Shimei, David’s thorn in the side.  Because David spared Shimei when everyone else wanted his head for what he had done, he allowed the mentor of the woman who would save the nation to be born.

Our choices have consequences…sometimes very far-reaching consequences!  I am reminded of the words of Moses: I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. 
    Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV

May you make choices that bring life and blessings rather than death and cursing!