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“Can you give me a hug?” Hugging a complete stranger, and a homeless one at that?!

I was completely taken aback. This homeless man was selling Big Issue magazines in one of London’s Underground stations – and I was in a hurry. I wasn’t wearing a WWJD wrist band, but I immediately wondered what Jesus would have done. I ended up giving the man a hug, a hug that I will never forget. It was as if I had given Jesus himself a hug!

Showing compassion was one of the outstanding characteristics of Jesus. Matthew 9:36 tells us: “When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion and pity for them, because they were dispirited and distressed, like sheep without a shepherd.”(Amplified Bible)

How easy it is to criticise or judge when we see someone battling or being caught up in sin. It is only when I keep in mind that God treats me with patience and compassion, having paid the ultimate price in order to afford me forgiveness and healing, that I will be able to look differently on the homeless and straying around me. Having experienced our own painful marriage crisis, Brink and I visited a family member who himself had been caught up in an extra-marital affair. At the end of an afternoon of leisurely coffee and small talk, we invited them to join us for an evangelical weekend seminar. Though he was wary of committing to a weekend of “sermons”, what apparently swayed him towards accepting was when I gave him a goodbye hug with: “We really love you.” That weekend God touched him and changed him into an invaluable leader in his local church.

Of course, it isn’t going to work exactly this way in every case, but I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit will guide every one of us when we find ourselves in a situation where a hug or a kind word would make that about-turn so much easier.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NIV)

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