"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2, NIV)
I find this scripture to be one of the most valuable when dealing with the homeless population. It's better than the old cliché, "Never judge a book by its cover." When comparing the word of God to a cliché, you find the deeper meaning in what it is to judge. When you judge a person after a two second glance as you drive by, you have already assumed the worst of that person. Think about that for a second. You see the dirty clothes, and the long scraggly hair. Maybe if they smiled at you, you noticed teeth missing. You think to yourself, "Wow, I'm glad I'm not that guy." In that brief moment, did you ever express your gratitude to God that you weren't "that guy"? Have you been thankful for the home or car that you have?
Of course, I'm talking about the stereotypical homeless person you see on the corner. But there are also homeless people that look like you and me. They wear clean clothes, brush their teeth, get haircuts, and shave every day. You would never know it to look at them. And yet, this breed of homeless, you might greet in passing, you might hold the door for them, you might have a conversation with them. What is the difference between the two? Judgement.
There are so many reasons people find themselves homeless. With the opiate epidemic running wild in our own hometown, most would assume that the general population at the City Mission are junkies or alcoholics. On the contrary, many have simply fallen on hard times; lost their jobs, lost their homes because of medical bills, left abusive relationships. Families have casted them away.
What I have learned while working at the Mission is to love all. Everyone deserves a chance to live a happy, bountiful life. Everyone deserves a second, or third, or fourth chance. In the classes I have taught to our residents at the Mission, I emphasize on positive thinking, and changing the way you see things so that, in the future, the same mistakes aren't made. The past is the past, there is no need to repeat it. People think that the homeless are just looking for a handout. When in truth, they are looking for a hand up. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)
When you judge a book by its cover, you seed the broken binding, dog-eared or torn pages, an author you have never heard of. You miss the story inside; the happy ending that turned to tragedy in the middle of the book, the conflict of bad decisions versus good decisions, the battle of a broken family, of broken hearts. "That guy" on the corner may have once had a "normal" life. You will never know if you never talk to him. Open that book. Read the first chapter at least. Everyone has a story.
The homeless weren't always homeless. It can happen to anyone. If you found yourself homeless tomorrow, how would you like to be judged? Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (1Peter 3:8)
Author: Michelle Cortez, Findlay City Mission
The City Mission of Findlay is a proud member of the following organizations:
Citygate Network Mission Member, and Findlay Hancock Chamber of Commerce