Sermon in shoes

This morning, friends told us that years ago they benefitted from a “sermon in shoes” – an active of kindness.

The husband was quite sick and only able to work part-time.  A Christian friend, with a large family of his own to care for, came to them and offered to help them financially.  As far as I know, they did not take advantage of his offer, but they were deeply touched.  In their eyes, his offer reflected his faith – a real faith.

It made me think of acts of kindness that I have received.  My family and I have never been in financial need.  But, 28 years ago, four friends drove down from Ottawa to a Montreal-area funeral home to comfort me and my family just after my mother died.  I have always remembered that loving gesture.

It also made me think of an opportunity I had recently to be a “sermon in shoes” to other friends – but I failed to act.  I rationalized my inaction.  Of course, there are other occasions when I have done something very small, but which meant a great deal to the people who received the little kindness.

My wife is always alert to people’s needs and follows through with offers of help.  She is a living “sermon in shoes”.

As Christians, we often talk about sharing our faith with people who don’t know the Lord.  We pray for them and we pray about opportunities to speak.  But clearly it is “sermons in shoes” that have the greatest impact.

We read in the New Testament how Jesus had a powerful effect on his listeners.  We assume it was because of his words.  That is certainly true, but the reason his words struck home was that his listeners could see his compassionate heart.  He healed people beyond even the limits of his strength.  And he gave multitudes some food on at least two occasions.  Always, he spent time with people who were unloved.

I need to see the needs of others as an opportunity – not a distraction and a burden.

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