What are your first thoughts when you see a homeless person walking down the street pushing a shopping cart with all of their lifes belongings inside it? What about the drug addict that is wandering outside the gas station asking for your spare change? Or the person that is walking beside you in the grocery store dressed in all black with tattoos and piercings all over? Unfortunately many of us have thoughts that are not kind at all. We blame them for being in the situation that they are in and feel that they are beneath us. We pass judgement on outer looks and current situations without knowing anything at all about the person. We think to ourselves, “get a job, stop doing drugs, dress better, and take better care of yourself.” But have you ever stopped for second and asked yourself, “what if that were me?”
If you were homeless would you want people to assume that you chose to live that way? If you were addicted to drugs would you want people to assume that you are less of a person because of your addiction? If you dressed and looked differently than most people would you want others to think that there is something wrong with you? I think that it is safe to say that we would want to be treated just like everyone else no matter our situation or appearance. We would want someone to be kind to us. We would want others to see us as a human being that matters. We would not want to feel more isolated than we already do because people stand far away from us rather than coming near us.
One new commandment Jesus gave us was to love others as we love ourselves. I have found that the best way I can do that is to ask myself, “what if that were me, how would I want someone to treat me”? If I were in the situation what would I hope that someone would do for me. What would I need if it were me. How would I feel if it were me. Putting myself in the other person’s shoes helps me to humble myself and treat them as I would want to be treated. I often even gain a better understanding about a person when I put myself in their shoes.
This world is filled with hurting people that are in bad situations, rather it be by choice or not. But I am sure that no one has planned on being homeless or a drug addict. For some the choices that they made lead them to where they are but that does not mean that they are any less of a human being than we are. It does not mean that because they made bad choices that they do not deserve to be loved and treated as if they mattered. For some people that is exactly what they need to be able to gain worth and value to climb out of the pit that they are in.
If we are going to be a light in this dark world we have to start with treating others as we want to be treated. We have to love on the unlovely. We have to not pass judgement. And we can help ourselves do that by putting ourselves in their shoes. Ask yourself what you would want from others. How would you want to be treated? What would bring joy and love to your heart if you were that person? Let’s bring glory to God by loving others as we love ourselves.