“So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (Rom 2:3-4 NIV)
Have you ever tried to ask for help, only to be thoroughly criticized?
Have you ever tried to reach out in love, only to be rejected?
But then, who among us never criticized someone else behind their back, or avoided people we don’t like . . .
Is this the correct thing to do?
It’s so easy to see the mistakes of others, and it’s so easy to justify avoiding certain people. But does this make it right?
In the late 19th century in certain areas located in the south of Iceland, it was common to see poles erected in the ground in frequently travelling areas, especially areas where cities were far from each other and where travelers would easily get lost.
It sure would be easy to criticize such travelers. “They should have brought better maps with them, and maybe better equipment, too!” Such ramblings of our thoughts could easily justify the idea that these travelers should have to learn a lesson from their mistakes.
But such criticism was never the case in Iceland. If a traveler in one of these regions got lost and needed help, he or she would seek out one of these poles. There would be an oil lamp under each pole, and the lost person would light this lamp and hoist it up on the pole. The light would then be seen from afar, and anyone in the region that noticed it would come to the immediate rescue of that lost person.
In our modern world, there are literally myriads of people crying out for help. Their lives are far from delightful, and they are totally lost, having no clue how to resolve their dilemmas. I wish they could hoist up a lamp, so we would understand without a doubt that they need our help. Unfortunately, no one notices this fact, and they still hunger for help.
Criticizing these people won’t help them. In fact it will only drive them deeper and deeper in complete despair. Only “kindness, tolerance and patience” will open the doors of their hearts, giving us the opportunity to help them, bringing them hope instead of blame.
May our lights shine as brightly as that oil lamp on these southerly poles of Iceland. Maybe these lost souls will be drawn to Jesus’ light that shines through us! “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt 5:14 NIV)
(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans” devotional series, please click here.)