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I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me. I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, with help and ministering care. I was in prison and you came to see Me. Matthew 25: 35-36

Isn’t it amazing that the way we treat others is the way that we treat Jesus? I was recently in Mozambique, where I visited a garbage dump in which people live in the direst of poverty. The location announces itself far ahead with billows of acrid smoke swirling into the air. Here, families seek to eke out an existence rummaging in the rubbish. It is the most shocking dire poverty imaginable.

And yet, in this dark seething hole of misery, I found a precious jewel that I have treasured ever since. Amongst the rubbish I found a little boy called Sylvester. His undernourished and afflicted body was clothed with a few tattered garments which were so filthy that they were coated in a thick, shiny layer of grime. In the eyes of the world he was the poorest of the poor, unesteemed, forgotten and forsaken.

As I embraced him, I was no longer conscious of the rages, but rather of his heartbeat beneath them. The strength of the beat conveyed the strength of God’s love for him. Though the world had forgotten him, God was intensely passionate about his life. God had given him life and sustained it, but He had even given His own life that Sylvester could live. This is the inestimable value God placed on this little boy.

As I noted the hair on his head, I saw how each of the innumerable follicles was so perfectly and intricately formed. He was beautifully created, a perfect work of art, wonderfully crafted by his creator, with every detail finely attended to. It was an incredible privilege to be holding the precious image of God, fashioned by His hand and created and sustained by His breath. He was a diamond in the dust, neglected by man, but of infinite value to the living God.

When I looked at him I saw the image of God in him. I saw the face of Jesus as I looked in his face. It was a joy to behold God in him, a poor reflection, of course, but unmistakably, the image of God.

How we must learn to look at people the way God looks at them, to see Jesus in their faces and to rediscover the image of God in man. The world strives to obliterate God’s presence from the earth. One of the key areas in which this is done is in the denial of the reality of the image of God in man. As soon as we remove the awareness that there is something intrinsically valuable and of God in a person they become insignificant and worthless. This perception has become all pervasive in society, so that we have great difficulty recognizing that the way we treat God’s image is directly the way we treat God Himself.

When we see someone suffering, do we react with convicted compulsion that we have to stop their pain? Do we realize that the grief of a child is a grief born by God as his image is abused? Do we recognize our responsibility to actively step out and change the situation?

When we truly love someone, we care about what is important to them. We cannot love God and care nothing for those He made in His image and gave His life for. If we do not value the image of God, we do not truly value God.

We have been so surrounded by complacency, that it has become the norm not to take action when we see need. We need to actively break that mold and reshape our thinking into conformity with the responsive mindset that God has ordained. We need to jolt ourselves out of inaction by doing something drastically different from that which we have become accustomed to. Look around you and see those who have needs. Decide to show God’s love in a specific practical way and then go and do it! The first time will always take more effort, but the joy and value will make it worth it. Ask God to give you a heart that feels as He feels, eyes that see as He sees, ears that hear as He hears, hands that reach out as His do and a mouth that speaks as His does. Pray that he fills you with a compassion that you have never known before and a love for others that is far beyond what you have learned to give from yourself. Allow Him to break you, to fill you and to use you as a channel of His compassion. Only then can you know the real joy of the fullness of his love as you pour yourself out and he fills you to overflowing.

Elizabeth Batha

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.