What I Learned from Leroy

January 23, 2019

I can be pretty self-righteous. I hate that.

I don’t think God is really keen on spiritual arrogance, either. In fact, I think He loathes it because it is baggage that keeps us from soaring spiritually. 

Last year I realized I needed to cut this dead weight. I needed to do something tangible.

My judgmentalism takes many shapes. One form was that I judged people who gave cash to homeless people with signs. (I’m being real here, so don’t judge me right now, okay?) This might surprise you since I am, after all, the founder of an orphan care ministry that assists the poorest of the poor in Africa and Asia…

But self-righteousness does not care about your title. It subtly sneaks into your life. 

I always believed that “those people” would only waste the funds on booze or drugs. Or I would buy them food or help them tangibly, but give them cash—no way!

And, while it is a philosophy that is often pretty sound, that is not the point. The point was that I had allowed myself to land on a self-righteous perch.

So I decided that on my vacation I would look for the very first homeless person I saw and give him 20 bucks. “The first destitute person wins,” I thought. “Don’t care who it is.” (Yeah, I know, that sounds pretty sad when you say it out loud). I just wanted to ease my conscience and lift my burden.

First day – nobody with a sign. Second day – nothing. Day seven and still nobody…until I saw Leroy. There he was…my “project.” I saw him sitting on the sidewalk asking for cash. I bent over and placed a Hamilton squarely in the palm of his shaking hand. I smiled and walked away.

I felt better—for 20 seconds. 

I told my wife, “I did not do that right. Next time, I will talk to the person in need.” 

And, as only my spicy wife can say it, she replied, “You do know you can turn around right now and do it, right?” Geesh. 

I did. I made a friend. I also tackled my self-righteous, judgmental spirit. I have not eradicated this spiritual infection, but I am taking swipes at it with Jesus’ help.

It took a while, but God is finally getting through to me. Judging others and being spiritually arrogant gets in the way of caring for others well.

The Bible reminds us that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). 

Who do you know who needs a little more mercy – and a lot less judgment – in their life today? 

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