Cups of Water and Compassionate Ways

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10: 42)
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Today I had the very unusual opportunity to fulfill these passages in a literal sense. I was watching some TV, and suddenly the doorbell rang. Now, I was at home by myself, and so usually I don’t answer the door unless it’s a little old lady or something. Usually I take a peek through the window, and if it’s someone I know, I open the door; otherwise, I ignore it. But the person rang the doorbell again, and then started knocking on the door, so I decided I might as well open it. Outside there was a man, of East Indian descent (or somewhere around that area anyways), with a clipboard. My first thought was, “Shouldn’t have opened the door. Don’t want whatever he’s selling.”

So anyways, first he asked if I was the homeowner, and I said no, and that he was not available. Then he started asking me if there was a plaza around here somewhere. I was sort of confused. His accent made it a little hard to understand what he was saying, but I got through to him that there was a plaza less than a block away, and pointed out the direction to him. He asked me if it was close enough to walk, like five to ten minutes, and I assured him that yes, it was that close. I was sort of amused by this point, but still confused as to what he was talking about. Most people, when you tell them that the homeowner is unavailable, they say, “Okay thanks,” and take off. Either that or they’re selling chocolate bars, and try to get you to buy one. But this guy didn’t seem in a hurry to be going anywhere. He continued talking, and mentioned that he was with some sort of hydro company (I didn’t really catch the name, but his hat said something like “Universal” on it). Apparently, since there were lots of houses over here, he was supposed to go around from door-to-door and tell them about something-or-other to do with hydro. All I thought in my head was, “Go figure, a door-to-door salesman actually having to go from door to door?”

By this time, I was simply wanting to get back to my TV show. He mentioned how there didn’t seem to be many people home around this time of day, and I told him that yes, most of the people would be at work, so it was likely better if you went around after supper-time instead. But then he asked me for a glass of water. Immediately, it caught my attention as the words of Jesus came back to me. I mean, it’s not like an angel floated down on a cloud and recited the words of Matthew 10:42 up above. But he asked for a glass of water, and I sort of stared at him for a second while my brain processed that information along with this verse. I managed to get out, “Uhh, yeah sure!” and went and got him a glass of cold water. He drank it, and thanked me, and then went on his way. It was simply a strange experience, and I don’t even know why.

These verses basically whacked me in the face as he asked me for the drink. I mean, I don’t know whether he was an angel or not. I watched him as he walked down the driveway, and he didn’t sprout wings and fly away. I was sort of disappointed by that. But in a very real way, I got to carry out what Jesus said to do – pretty much to the letter, actually. And of course, I got to entertain a stranger, although I can’t say I did much entertaining since I wasn’t about to let him into my home or anything. It was just an interesting experience. I suppose I’m writing about this simply because I haven’t had many interesting experiences lately anyways. It’s mostly a bunch of sitting at home, doing nothing, and trying to keep myself occupied. Oh, and doing laundry. That’s a big one. It’s interesting, though, how things can pop into your mind with the shortest phrase that is spoken, or the smallest gesture. I won’t venture to say that the Holy Spirit brought the verse to my mind as I acted oh-so-spiritual and got this guy a drink. I mean, even if I were non-Christian that had never even heard of the Bible, I still probably would have gotten the guy a drink. It’s only being polite. But it was just interesting how I got to do exactly what Christ told us as Christians to do.

The more I learn about how to live the Christian life, the more I realize how it’s the small things that God can shine through best. I mean, there are those like Billy Graham, etc., that do amazing things for God. They do huge mass evangelism crusades and see thousands come to Christ, and that’s awesome. But we’re not all that well-known to be able to do that. However, we are all evangelists, whether we like it or not. And God can use the smallest situation to bring glory to Himself. It works best when we have relationships with people. I certainly can’t say that this salesman guy is going to fall to his knees and give his life to Jesus because I gave him a drink. He doesn’t even know I’m a Christian. But when we are in a relationship with people, they can begin to see love shown consistently, in the big and the small things. And that’s where we can start seeing change in their lives – because they see a difference in ours.

A lot of times, I think people try too hard to do the “big things” for God. There’s nothing wrong with the big things. If someone has a genuine need for a new car, and you feel led by God to show His love by buying them a car, then that is awesome. People can certainly see love that way. But I’m a firm believer in the small things. First of all, we can’t do the big things all the time. I really don’t have the cash to spend on buying all the homeless people in Toronto groceries every week. The need is there, but I really don’t have the capacity to do that. But small things are simply that – small. And that means that there we can do them constantly and consistently, so that people can see not just a one-time grand display of love, but a genuine concern for others’ well-being.

The other thing is that the small things can “slip under the radar,” so to speak. With the big things, people have the tendency to look for motives other than simple, genuine love. If someone gave me a car because I mentioned that I really needed one and couldn’t afford it, I would seriously wonder whether they were expecting something in return, or trying to get in the newspaper, or maybe wanting me to get them a tax receipt for them or something. Maybe they’re trying to buy my vote so they can become mayor. Maybe they’re doing it because they want everyone to see how generous they are and how wealthy they are to be able to do such a thing. There are a million different reasons why someone could do something like that other than because of a genuine concern. But with the little things, it’s less likely to be something like that. People still do even small acts of “love” for their own gain. But it’s more obvious that they’re doing it because of compassion, out of a loving heart. And that shows up like it’s glow-in-the-dark. Sure, it might not be a flashy display of “I’m giving you everything I have, look at me!” Those are more like flashlights. But glow-in-the-dark stuff can be more consistent, and the effects last much longer. And that’s why the small things are important, too.

Anyways, these two thoughts were really not connected at all. As I said, I mostly gave this guy the glass of water out of politeness more than demonstrating an act of love. But it got me thinking. And that’s the great thing about life – the more you think about things, the more you can learn about yourself and about life in general. But anyways, here’s your homework for today: Go out and do some little act of love for someone you know. Then go and find someone else, and do something for them. And then do something for those people tomorrow. Even if it’s just a compliment or a friendly smile. Everyone loves those. The important thing is that you’re not just cheering them up; you could be positioning yourself for a conversation about why you act the way you do, and who this Jesus person is anyway. Go out and make your Father proud 🙂

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

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