Thursday, August 7, 2014

Who have you written off as hopeless?

When do you write someone off?

When is "enough, enough"?

When do you start to believe there's no hope for them regarding change?

For many of us, it's at the first blush of annoyance with them.

Our tolerance with others is woefully lacking.

For example, in John 4 we read about the encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman at a well. This woman had failed at marriage five times, and the man she was living with wasn't husband number six. Do you think her friends thought there was any hope of this woman ever experiencing the joy of relationships that had enduring love and commitment?

Probably not. They had likely written her off long ago.

In Mark 5, we read about a man possessed by a legion of demons. Scripture describes him like this:

"This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles --- as he often was --- he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones," Mark 5:3-5.

Do you think the people living in the area near this man had any hope for this guy ever living a "normal" life? Not likely. They had probably written him off as hopelessly lost.

And what about the man we read of in John 5? In Jerusalem there was the pool of Bethesda, and tradition says every now and then an angel would come and stir the water, and after doing so the first person entering the water would be healed of any diseases or ailments. Because of this, we read in scripture, "Crowds of sick people --- blind, lame, or paralyzed --- lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years," John 5:3-5.

We don't know how long this man had been coming to the pool in hopes of being healed, but after being sick for 38 years, do you think anyone had any hopes for him ever getting well or being healed?

Not likely. He had probably been written off as permanently sick years or decades ago.

And yet the lives of all these people changed!

The woman at the well: "The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 'Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?'" John 4:28-29.

The demon-possessed man: Jesus cast the demons out of him, then we read this, "A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid," Mark 5:15.

The sick man by the pool of Bethesda: "Jesus told him, 'Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!' Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! ..." John 5:8-9.

What was it that changed the lives of these "hopeless" people, people who had probably been written off by family, friends, and anyone who knew them?

Jesus!

Where there is Jesus, there is hope for a transformed life!

We're so fast to write off others because we don't see them through the mind of Christ, and we all too often fail to share Christ with them. Yet, there is NO ONE who is hopeless or helpless with Christ.

Maybe instead of writing people off, we need to be diligent in bringing them Christ so that they can have real hope.

And for those who are just perpetually annoyed at people and routinely think there's no hope for others, well, there's hope that you can change that hopeless attitude of yours ... through Christ.

Scotty

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