by Raymond Timmerman
I’d like to share a story with you about something that happened to me when I was living in Arkansas. As a youth minister I would frequently visit the local midde school gym to spend extra time with these teenagers. It was not unusual for me to participate with them as they played their various games.
There was another man by the name of Allen that also frequently visited the gym. He was a veteran with a disability that did not allow him to hold a job. To compensate, he volunteered for odd jobs in the community and spend the rest of his time gardening and hunting.
I did not like Allen. When we played with these teenagers in the gym I noticed that he cheated. Every close call when in his favor. I decided to distance myself from him so that others would not make the mistake of thinking we had the same sort of values.
One day Allen met me in town and asked me, “Raymond, do you like garden vegetables?” When I said yes he gave me two grocery bags full of fresh vegetables from his garden. Wow! It was a really nice gesture. A couple of weeks later he asked me if I liked venison. When he found out that I did, he filled up my freezer with all sorts of venison. Try as I may, from that moment on I could not bring myself to dislike Allen.
I learned several things from these experiences with Allen:
First off, I learned why God tells us to be abounding in good works. Everyone likes to be treated nice. If we are ever to get our foot in the door of a lost and dying world, it would help us tremendously if we started by loving and serving them first.
The second thing I learned from Allen was how embarrassed I felt when it dawned on me that although he did not do these things for Christ, he was acting more like Jesus than I was. James 1:22 says, “Prove yourselves doers of the Word and not merely hearers who fool themselves.” It is inconsistent with everything I know about the Bible for unbelievers to act more like Jesus that a Spirit-filled Christian. It made me rethink my walk with Christ.
The final thing that I learned from all this was that Allen was not my opponent. He was a person who just needed some fine tuning (like myself). Allen was an opportunity. God is not finished with any of us yet. The grace that I received when I realized I was wrong was the same grace that Allen needed. Yes, I know it is hard to remember to give grace on a regular basis, but if we would ask our Lord in faith to remind us in this matter, He tells us in His Word that He will do it (Phil. 2:13).
So, if you want to be like Jesus, look for the opportunity to treat those around you with an attitude of love and servanthood. It will separate you from just about everyone else and put you in a position of influence. And remember, without Jesus, people should be expected to cheat and do wrong. Rise to the challenge and share with them how Jesus can change them from the inside out. Now wouldn’t that be a great commission?