From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take. 1 Chronicles 12:32 NLT
Popular author Max Lucado wrote, “People-helping is never a tidy trade because people who need help don’t lead tidy lives.”
I discovered the truth of his words when I received a letter from a prisoner in Ohio. He had come across a devotional I had written for a widely-circulated magazine. He was young with a messy life. I can’t remember all the details, but he wanted someone to talk to. And I was that person.
I wrote him back, giving him encouragement and advice. He had become a Christian since entering prison and was struggling with being a light for Christ. No sooner had I mailed a letter back to him than I received another from him.
When the conversations turned toward him needing financial assistance, him coming to my town for a visit, and me trying to find someone to help him, fear took over and I backed off. I had no way of knowing he could be trusted and wasn’t out to rob me when he got out.
I was convicted about my attitude when I read Lucado’s words and when I thought about Jesus’ words not to judge unfairly. I was also reminded of Jesus’ example of helping those of society who others had turned their backs on. It was a messy business for Him, and helping them will be a messy business for me as well. And after all, I’ve been in messy situations myself that required others to get messy to assist me.
Of all the Israelite tribes that came to anoint David king of Israel, Issachar understood the times and knew the best course of action for the nation.
Defined, culture is “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.” Culture is more than nationality. It can be prison culture or teen culture. It may involve the culture of poverty, abuse, laziness, religion, and legalism.
Understanding the various cultures of our world—and then getting involved in those cultures, is never clean or easy, but it is a responsibility of those who claim to mimic Christ. When we stay anchored in the truth of God’s Word and believe God is with us, we can minister to all cultures with love.
Prayer: Father, give us love for all people and courage to engage them in a spirit of love.