So what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when the word “prison” surfaces? For years I would instantly judge those in prison as evil law breakers who deserve everything they are given – especially those who have preyed upon the innocent!
Then I got knocked by a .357 magnum bullet, spent nine months lying on my back as I awaited both corrective surgery and my trial….and during this time I received a NEW heart from Jesus Christ and subsequently NEW UNDERSTANDING that God looks at people and sin far different than the vast majority – on both sides of the church doors – who are so quick to judge. Think about it…..some murder with a gun, others murder with their lips! From God’s higher perspective…..he looks at gossipers, slanderers and backbiters as no different than those who end another’s life. To him…..sin is sin is sin.
Just think about it…..did God not use ex-murderers to write most of the Bible? Why, consider yourself….does God not JOYfully turn losers into winners? And is His forgiveness not for EVERYONE, regardless their sin? So why should you and I judge others? After all, we weren’t present when those in prison….were abused by parents, family members and neighbors.
Indeed, the majority who are in prison were abused while young – verbally, physically, sexually – before they ran away to become the abusers! Does God’s Word not say that “the sins of the fathers come above their children?”
In one of Josh McDowell’s books he says “80% of children who don’t have a Dad as a ‘player’ in their lives will turn to drugs and even worse. He’s not talking about Dads who work hard to ensure their families’ material needs are met….he’s talking about a Dad who are willing to make their children a higher priority, and who are willing to spend quality time with his children, Dads who are “present” in their lives while they grow up.
Oh yes, those in prison definitely deserve to be punished for their crimes but do they deserve to be punished for the “crimes” of their parents? And if God is willing to forgive them should we not also? Does He not clearly say that we are to “let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus…..to remember those in prison as if in prison with them and when we minister to them we are actually ministering to Him?
God’s thoughts and ways are far higher than yours and mine…..and in this hour He is calling us to “come up to His level of thinking, to receive understanding and be transformed into children who are fueled with His passion to minister to the unloved, the forgotten, the outcasts of society….and to “meet them at the gate” if and when they are released from prisons.
One day soon we will all stand before God….and be judge for “both the good and bad” we did as His children. And in that day, many will say “did we not do this and that in your name?” What will He say to you….on the subject of turning your hearts and hands away from those whom He loves….just as much as He loves you?
Why not pray right now and ask forgiveness for being so quick to judge others….and to ask for understanding so you can begin to look at others….from God’s perspective. After all, IF our citizenship is indeed in heaven, and we are living “above” and not “beneath”…..should not we be THINKING in heavenly places – so we can do some earthly good?
* Philip Hicks has been called to minister FREEDOM to captives “on both sides of the prison walls”. Now back in Roseville, he and his wife, Patti, and their 11-year-old son, Cody, recently returned from ministering to the “incarcerated church” for one full year, coast to coast! Endorsed by Chuck Colson, Merlin Carothers and Francis Anfuso, Philip’s autobiography, The Cross & the .357 Magnum, is available on their website, www.amerryheart.com. We encourage you to prayerfully consider scheduling Philip’s JOYful ministry for a future church celebration!