January 25, 2018 – Thursday
Matthew 5:46-48 [NLT] If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Like many, I exercise around my work-schedule – before work, at lunch, or after work. And when it’s cold outside, I exercise at an indoor facility. During my cool-down stage, walking around the indoor track, I seldom speak to others. I just do my business, and let others do theirs.
But one day, I found myself walking in my lane at the same pace as someone in the next lane. She moaned from the ache of her work-out, as I moaned from mine, and this lead to a conversation. New to town, she had a lot of questions and, after several cool-down laps, this led to a mutual focus: prison ministry. I provided local information about that ministry but, more importantly, I provided the local Body of Christ to someone new.
The tendency in today’s world is not to talk with strangers. Yet scripture requires more of us. On that indoor track, I may nod at those I know. But on this day, He led me to greet a stranger. In doing so, He led me to strive to be perfect, just as He is perfect. And both, this new friend and I, were blessed by that effort!
At work today, and perhaps at your exercise facility, you will encounter more strangers than friends. Do not act like a corrupt tax collector. Do not engage like the pagans do. Instead, take the opportunity to strive to be perfect, just as He is perfect.
Today, receive the stranger as Christ as receives you. And both, you and your new friend, will be blessed by that effort!
Father God, thank You for giving me courage to strive to be more like You want me to be. Give me eyes to see the stranger, and heart to receive the stranger in ways that glorify You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
James D. Slack, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Jackson State University
Jackson, Mississippi USA