Good morning everyone and welcome to Saturday morning. I pray the Lord has abundant blessings in store for you and your family today and that it will be a day containing both rest and play.
Today I have the privilege of participating in the memorial service for a friend's father. Gerry and his whole family are very special and dear to me so I consider this an honour, however it is also a difficult situation. Gerry's father has been estranged from the family for most of Gerry's life, having abandoned his family when the children were all young. Yet, this family has character, recognizing the need to gather and mark the passing of this life. After all, who can measure a man's worth? Only the Creator of that life.
We are a terrible people for the way we judge such matters. We either look at the here and now to judge the person and their character or we hold them to something from their past and judge them to be this same person. We forget that life is not stagnant because people do not stand still for a life time. It is a journey; everyone we encounter and everything we experience changes us, adding to or taking away from us.
Consider the person living on the street today who you may or may not notice as you Christmas shop downtown. You do not know that person; you only know what you see. That person came from somewhere. They had a mother and a father. They may even have brothers and sisters. They may be someone's wife or husband. They may have children. They may have been a lawyer, teacher, a tax paying citizen. They may have had a positive impact on hundreds of people up to this point in their life. You don't know. You also don't know what is ahead of them on this journey. They may encounter someone who is able to help them put their broken life back together. They may go on to influence hundreds maybe thousands of others to do the same. We don't know, so we can't judge. We only see the hear and now.
Consider the people who have harmed you in the past. You define them by that pain you experienced; that is all you see of them. Yet, the offense that caused that pain could have been from five, ten, thirty or even fifty years ago. How much have you changed in that period of time? How many people have you encountered since then who have impacted you to change? What experiences have you had that have re-defined who you are? Do you not believe the same thing has been happening to that person? If you are able to look beyond that thing that defines that person for you, do you think you may see a stranger who no longer resembles the person you thought he was?
What is the worth of a man? Only the Father can measure the height, depth and breadth of it. We cannot know it so we should not judge it. However, know this: the Scriptures tell us that Jesus came to save the whole world by giving the whole world a choice. It must mean that the Father sees value in each living being. Scripture also tell us that Jesus died for us before we were saved, so while we were still dirty, ugly, and smelly from sin. That means the Father loves people even in that state of their lives. Who are we to judge what we do not know and what God has placed such a high value on? Life is a journey and the Father loves us through each step of the way, good or bad steps, desiring for us to make that right decision of surrendering our lives to him. Until the last breath is taken there is value in what God has chosen to love simply because of that love.
So today, as you encounter strangers who add to or take away from your life, remember the journey. Show these strangers some grace because you do not know from where they have journeyed or to where that journey will take them. And for those who are not so much strangers as they are estranged from you, offer forgiveness in the place of the hatred and bitterness. You do not know what they have become and to whom they have value. Forgive them for having no value for you and allow the Spirit to heal those wounds. The Lord will use it all for your benefit.