“For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.” – Hebrews 6:10.
I don’t think we would want our attention spans measured. The results would be disappointing, because our attention spans are typically pretty short. We can’t focus when we get up because all we can think about is coffee. Then a second cup of coffee. And while drinking the coffee we wonder why we are still tired. There are enough distractions during the day that we stop paying attention to all that is happening around us.
We have all seen him. He lies amidst a pile of newspapers in a park field, covered with a blanket that has seen better days. People shuffle past him and around him trying not to make eye contact. He wasn’t there when we were young, but he is there now. Sometimes enough people complain and the police will relocate him, at least temporarily. But he will come back. And most people simply won’t pay any attention to him and go about their business.
Such a man was Lazarus. In Luke 16:19-31 we read the familiar story of the rich man and Lazarus. It is sad to think of Lazarus sitting at the rich man’s gate and begging. Lazarus is a mess with the Bible telling us that “As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.” (Vs. 21) We can’t even truly grasp the situation until we pay enough attention to see Lazarus. “Care about them as much as you care about yourselves” (Philippians 2:4) You see, in this parable, the rich man did not see Lazarus. The rich man’s sin was not that he was rich, but that he did not take notice of his neighbor in need. He was too absorbed in himself to even to see the man sitting as near as his doorstep.
The question is how often have we unintentionally done the same thing. We would gladly help the person if we were simply paying attention. So often fixing a problem only requires us noticing that there is a problem and caring enough to want to help. Think about when you are facing tough circumstances or you are just feeling low. In those times there is nothing like a phone call from a friend asking how they could help. Or a neighbor walking over to see if you are okay. When people are paying attention and care enough to reach out to us it always seems to lift our spirits. In the same vein, have we taken notice of someone else whose world is caving in?
If we want to be more like Jesus, we cannot just step over the person sitting at our gate as if he does not even exist. There are people all around us that need help. People who need us to pay attention and help them if we can.
- Am I aware of needs in my community that God might have equipped me to help fulfill?
- What can I do this week to pay better attention to those in need around me?