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February 19, 2020

Angels in Disguise, Part 1

“… Angels are … spirit-messengers sent out to help and care for those who are to receive His salvation.” Hebrews 1:14 (TLB)

Have you ever been mistaken as an angel in disguise? When we display the love of Christ through acts of random kindness to others in even small unexpected ways we can be mistaken for an angel.  People will wonder, “Where does that kind of love and compassion come from?”  Maybe you’ve encountered such a person.  They came into your life at just the right time; strangers you’ve never met yet sent by God to demonstrate His care and concern. They were the hands and feet of Jesus ministering to the specific need in your life when you needed it most!  Wow! What evidence for the existence of God and His intimate concern for you! It’s an experience you will never forget!

Whether you’ve encountered such an experience or not, the great challenge is to be such a person for others, to walk with such sensitivity to the Spirit of God that you see those who are hurting around you. How can you and I be mistaken as an angel in someone else’s life?

First, remember everyone has a hidden hurt.  Most of us are really good at masking the pain we feel most of the time. Still if you’re breathing there are hurts in your life that you are dealing with. God cares about your pain. He cares about the pain others are feeling around you. If you’re a Christ follower, you’re not exempt from pain, but you have an answer for it. You have the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the compassion of the body of Christ around you to share your burden. In Galatians 6:2 (TLB), the Apostle Paul wrote, “Share each other’s troubles and problems, and so obey our Lord’s command.” This is one of the great benefits of being connected to a church family. 

But think of those who, for whatever reason, may not be connected with other Christ followers. They are not a part of a church family or they may be a great distance from them and perhaps no one knows the hidden hurt they are carrying.  What then?  The writer of Hebrews tells us this, “Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, … Don’t forget about those in jail.” Hebrews 13:2-3 (TLB) Your acts of kindness may be the very means God demonstrates His love for them.

The truth is, there are hurting people all around us. Too often I find myself distracted by a busy schedule or my own stuff to even notice them. In doing so, I miss the gift of this day that could have made all the difference in both of our lives. How do we develop the kind of sensitivity to others that Jesus had?  Here are two ways that we are finding effective in our lives:

1. Ask God to open my eyes.  I love the passage in Matthew 9:36 that says, “When (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  That word “compassion” comes from two words, “com” meaning “with” and “passion” meaning “suffering”. It means to feel their pain in a way that responds with compassion. Compassion is what I like to call “grace in action.” 

In Matthew 25:40, Jesus gives a description of the final judgment ands says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” The challenge is how we view others? Whether they are known or unknown, strangers or friends, famous or common, rich or poor, the greatest or the least, how we treat others reflects how we treat Christ. When we really consider what that means, we must forget about ourselves so we can think about others and remember everyone is hurting.  When God opens our eyes to that reality, each day becomes a gift to offer others God’s healing grace and love with compassion, to meet a simple need in a profound way that makes you a messenger of hope.

2. Let God break my heart.  Seeing people like Jesus sees them comes from spending time with Jesus. When you spend time with Jesus, your heart will begin to break for the things that break God’s heart. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “Don’t forget about those in jail. Suffer with them as though you were there yourself. Share the sorrow of those being mistreated, for you know what they are going through.” Hebrews 13:3 (TLB)

Then in what seems almost out of place he adds this in verse 5, “Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have.” What is that all about? When you and I ask God to break our heart, He knows we can’t give our heart to others if we’ve given it to other things. Things are great but guard your heart from loving things and using people.  Use things and love people.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the second step to take if we are to be mistaken for an angel.