Spiritual StrugglesWhen you struggle spiritually, how do you react?
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My husband and I were leaving a restaurant one evening when a distraught couple approached us. Their story?
Car problems. From out of town. Waiting for their ride. We responded with compassion, desiring to help them and possibly introduce them to Jesus.
We even went to buy two meals and brought them to the hotel where they said they were staying. Arriving at the hotel, we were disappointed when the clerk instructed us to simply leave the meals at the front desk. (We later determined that he was part of a scam) A few weeks later we again saw the couple begging outside another restaurant. We had been deceived.
In such a moment, we might find it hard to see what Paul meant when he said, "God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him" (2 Cor. 5:18).
Oftentimes, compassion becomes marked with a sense of romanticism in our minds. Feeling noble, we respond to another's need with the ideal that our response will not only alleviate their suffering but bring redemption to their stories. No wonder the disappointment when we find we've been deceived.
Working from an entirely different value system, God doesn't assess our sacrifices based on whether or not others truly appreciate what we give. Neither should we. Jesus didn't lay down His life simply for the deserving, the honest, or the thankful. He died for the broken, even for those clothed in spiritual death and persistent in their deceptive endeavors.
To reconcile the world to Christ is to give what is not deserved (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-9). To exchange kindness for unkindness. To give love instead of hate. To honestly care in the face of dishonesty. In true kingdom fashion, such gentle and humble sacrifices offer great reward. No one can take anything from us, for all that we have has been freely given to us. With whatever measure we give, we receive. , Regina Franklin
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