Yesterday a woman came and knocked on my door. She was down on her luck and looking or some help. She said she needed some food, some gas money and she and her friend were living out of her car. It was hot yesterday. September is still warm in SC. I couldn’t do much, but did what I could. I had some cold, fresh fruit in the fridge and a case of cold water. I let them use my phone and got her a few things together, but was struck by how happy she and her friend were to have some cold water. They were excited like young kids who have been given a gift, because the water was cold on such a warm day. Jesus immediately reminded me of his words in the Gospel of John about giving a cup of cold water in his name.
Here’s the thing. This is not the first time this woman has shown up at my door. I doubt it will be the last either. There’s always a story. Always a reason. I don’t know if any of them are truth. And I don’t know if she would use any money I gave her on gasoline. I do know that there are arguments about not enabling people. I know. I know. I know. I know them all. I’ve heard them all. I’ve used them all.
But here’s the other thing. I might have a roof over my head and plenty to eat and drink, but I’ve been in places with family or friends, with my kids, with my health or with my spiritual well-being where I simply couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t fix it. I couldn’t make it better. I desperately needed God’s mercy.
Yes, there’s a place to say no and a place to draw a line, but sometimes mercy needs to win. And yesterday was one of those days. It wasn’t much. But the Lord of mercy says this:
“I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25).
If giving a cold bottle of water is to minister for Christ and in this passage we find it is actually to minister TO Christ, then what a privilege to be merciful to those who need it. After all, if they didn’t need it, it wouldn’t be mercy would it?
James 2:13 – “because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”