Saturday, December 19, 2009

Value People

Originally posted Friday December 10, 2004

"Anytime you devalue people, you question God's creation of them." ~ Coach Bill McCartney, founder of Promise Keepers

Samwise Gamgee is the constant companion of Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. Sam chooses to follow his friend and master, Frodo, into the dangers of Mordor. From Sam's behavior we know that there is a lot of good to be found in him: friendship, courage, being prepared, and even simplicity. J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings found Sam to be the Hobbit which he liked the most. In many aspects Sam would be a character worth imitating.

I am afraid that instead of telling you how you should be like Sam, I am going to remind you not to be like him. J.R.R. Tolkien, as he wrote the famous trilogy, would write letters and send manuscripts to his son Christopher who was serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II. In one of these letters Tolkien wrote, 'For myself, I was probably most moved by...and the tragedy of Gollum who at that moment came within a hair of repentance -- but for one rough word from Sam."

Though the scene that Tolkien refers to in the letter doesn't appear in the movie, at least to my recollection, the thought was still there. In the movie version Sam continually calls Gollum names like Stinker and never wanted to trust him. Frodo on the other hand, reached out to the former Ring holder Gollum, and even questioned Sam's treatment of the wretched creature.

I am afraid that we often treat people struggling with sin the same way Sam treated Gollum. Sam could see that Gollum had been corrupted by the power of the Ring and therefore that Gollum couldn't be trusted. Sam also made sure Gollum knew exactly what he thought about him by calling Gollum names. In other words, Sam put labels on Gollum in order to deal with the creature.

When we behave like Sam, we became a hindrance to people who want to repent and change. That is precisely one of the sins Jesus condemned the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his day, for doing.

{42} But how terrible it will be for you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.

{46} Yes how terrible it will be for you experts in religious law! For you crush people beneath impossible religious demands, and you never lift a finger to help ease the burden.
(Luke 11:42 and 46; NLT)

In Luke 11:37-52 Jesus criticizes the religious leaders of the day. They may have been good religious people, but they never lifted a finger to help those in need, especially those struggling with sin. They were passionate about theology but not compassionate towards people. The Pharisees would name call and blame before they would help. That is exactly what Sam does with Gollum, and sadly that is what we do to people who need our help as well.

Here is the bottom line: When we discover sin in someone else our first reaction should be, needs to be, to reach out to them in love. It doesn't do them any good for us to call them names or even give them new rules to follow, which does nothing to relieve the guilt and shame they have. Let compassion be your guide and always remember the forgiveness and compassion God has given to you through Christ Jesus.

1 comment:

Liam Lama said...

A really thought provoking post, thankyou

Best Wishes,
Liam (New Follower)

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