Give them Jesus, not judgement
by You Have My Word
It could have happened to any of us.
I was there in the “Sweets” aisle of the over-sized Pick ‘ Pay trying to decide whether I wanted the pink and white marshmallows, or the multi-coloured ones. Suddenly, he was there next to me. A coloured man, shorter than me, obviously from the Cape. He was speaking rapidly and incoherently in what seemed to be Afrikaans (the dialect was mumbled and definitely had the Cape twang). All I could make out was “Tien kilogram mielie meal” from all that he said. This was a sad man.
He was dressed in a, what used to be, white vest, blue overall pants and scuffed boots. He didn’t smell very good and I took a step back when he first approached me.
He never once looked me in the eye. Instead, his gaze was fixated on a small pile of five cent coins spread out across his sweaty palm. He continued to ramble as he pushed them around with his index finger. As if by moving them in circles, he was willing them to multiply before his eyes.
Every now and again, he would try and smile but the outcome was a stiff jawline of barred, yellow teeth. All I managed to say was “Ek verstaan nie.” He mumbled all the more agitatedly – urgently. I knew though, deep down, what he was saying all along.
I whispered to him “Hoeveel kos dit?” He met my eye for the first time and spoke an amount that I’m still not sure of, but I emptied my change out and gave it to him. He disappeared around the corner and was gone. I chose the pink and white marshmallows and made my way to the till.
Upon placing my things on the counter, to be scanned, I was struck with an uncanny conviction: here was a man who had nothing, me who had everything, and I gave him hardly anything. I was convicted because:
- in that moment, he needed someone and I overlooked that
- Jesus gave everything for me – to the point of death – and I was selfish
- even as I stood there watching his face contort with embarrassment as he pleaded, I stepped back because I didn’t want to be embarrassed
I looked over to the next till and saw a young girl with just too little money for a single loaf of bread, and the woman behind her covered the cost willingly! I felt ashamed.
I paid for my things quickly and made my way back toward the aisles – I had to find this man, I had to help him. But I’d missed my chance and he wasn’t anywhere in sight.
I heard someone preach once about sin being Selfish Independent Nature. We need, rather, to strive toward following the ultimate, perfect example that Jesus demonstrated as he walked the earth.
We need open arms and an open heart. We need eyes that see people in their need and instead of judging them, meeting them where they’re at. We need willing hands and feet to go out of our comfort zones. We need gentleness to draw the broken-hearted, generous love and incomprehensible kindness. We need to be Jesus in those awkward moments of pity in shopping centre aisles – and everywhere.