Jessica Eaves was recently robbed in her local grocery story. But she was ready … not with a Taser but with the Word of God.
It happened so quickly. As she examined an item on a shelf, a stranger came up behind her and took her wallet out of her purse, which she had left in her cart.
When she realized her wallet was missing, she recalled seeing the man walking behind her as she started down the aisle. She quickly circled the floor and found him putting food in his own cart a few aisles away. Here, in her own words, is what happened as she approached him.
“As I walked toward him, a Scripture from Luke jumped out at me that said if someone hits you on the cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone steals your cloak, give them your shirt. So I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just be nice.’”
“So I said to him, ‘I think you have something of mine. I’m gonna give you a choice. You can give me my wallet and I’ll forgive you right now. I’ll even take you to the front and pay for your groceries. But if you don’t, I’ll call the police.”
“He just kind of stared at me for a second and he reached into his hoodie pocket and handed it to me,” she explained.
To the man’s amazement, Eaves then walked with him to the front of the store and paid for his groceries, which included milk, bread, bologna, soup, crackers and cheese. He became emotional and was moved to tears as she paid his $27 bill.
Jessica later told a reporter, “The last thing he said to me was, ‘I’m embarrassed, I have kids, I’m broke and I’m sorry.’”
Although Jessica was criticized by some people for letting the man go, she has no regrets. “Regardless of how much money we have, we should always be willing to help someone in need because there is always someone who is in greater need than we are,” she said.
Why did Jessica respond as she did?
As indicated in her television interview, the turning point in her encounter was the moment when Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6:29 came into her mind: “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.”
Either through a sermon or personal Bible reading, God had planted these words in Jessica’s heart. And in a moment of crisis—when she was in a position to dramatically impact another person’s life—God’s living Word guided her onto a path of mercy and forgiveness.
How about you? Are you this God-aware? Are you ready to be robbed (or irritated or criticized) and to respond with grace?
More specifically, are you diligently hiding God’s Word in your heart so that it is poised to guide you through the challenges and crises of your life? If not, let me encourage to weave these disciplines into your life as you begin the New Year.
- Join a church that is committed to solid biblical teaching and be there every week to grow through a steady diet of gospel-centered preaching and Sunday school teaching.
- Read the Bible every day. A simple way to begin is to read the first chapter in the book of Psalms on January 1. On January 2 read chapter 2, and so on. When you come to February, add 30 (reading chapters 31, 32, 33, etc.). In March, add 60 (Psalm 61, 62, 63, etc.), and so on. By the end of May, you’ll have read all 150 Psalms. Devote June to reading the thirty-one chapters in Proverbs. If you start over in July, you’ll read both books twice every year. I’ve used this system for thirty years, in addition to reading the rest of the Bible through many times, and every year God has revealed new treasures of wisdom that I’d not seen before.
- Take advantage of the wisdom and insights God has made available through devotional books written by gifted teachers. My all-time favorite is Morning and Evening, by C.H. Spurgeon, followed closely by Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest and The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. I’ve also benefited greatly from devotional books written by J.I. Packer, Tim Keller, John Piper, and the faculty at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, to name just a few. There are many mornings I wake up weary and discouraged, but after spending time with these “special friends,” my spirits are always lifted and I’m eager to meet the day.
- Make Scripture memory a part of your daily devotions. I began doing this while in law school and cannot count the number of times God has brought memorized passages to mind at a moment of crisis to guide me on a sure path (as he did with Jessica Eaves). You could use the simple note card system I used for years (explained in this article), or one of the many Smartphone apps designed to assist you in memorizing Scripture.
- Join a Bible study that will challenge you to dig deeply into the Bible and apply its teachings to everyday life. Start by checking what’s available through your local church. Two other highly acclaimed sources of solid Bible teaching are Bible Study Fellowship and Community Bible Study, both of which would profoundly deepen your understanding of Scripture.
As Jessica Eaves’ dramatic experience shows, hiding God’s Word in your heart is a crucial element of becoming relationally-wise and increasingly God-aware. The more attuned you are to his character, purposes, and teaching, the more faithfully you can follow him and wisely engage the people around you … especially when they disappoint, criticize, slander, or even rob you.
– Ken Sande
- Think of a time when you responded impulsively to someone who disappointed, irritated, or wronged you. How well did your impulses guide you? As you look back on that event, can you think of some biblical principles you wish you’d applied instead?
- How disciplined are you in studying and memorizing God’s Word. Are you satisfied with your practices or would you like to grow in this area?
- If you could just make a wish and it would happen, which of the disciplines described above would you like to be a part of your daily life? OK … instead of simply wishing for it, make a decision to start these things now, and pray for God to give you grace to follow through.
- If you’re really serious, find a friend who will join you in developing these disciplines and hold each other accountable for following through.
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© 2013 Ken Sande
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