A cruel, degenerative disease twisted the old woman’s back into a question mark and she shuffled through her final years looking toward the ground. But she saw the drug-fueled goings on next door, heard the loud rock and roll, the late night parties. Ruth (not her real name) went out of her way to be a good neighbor and developed a real friendship that blasted through presumed age and culture gaps. I know this because I was the guy next door.
Several years went by before my wife and I each encountered the truth about Jesus, gave Him our trust, and came to life by His Spirit. Ruth noticed. She may have been forced to physically look down, but she knew how to look up. One day, in a quiet and gentle way, she let on that she had been praying for us, all those years, every day.
I’m guessing Ruth knew this part of John’s first letter:
If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. (1 John 5:16a)
When Ruth looked across the alley and saw me, she saw her brother. She knew we were stumbling around in the dark, trying to find a way to make darkness more tolerable. She prayed, and God turned on the lights. He gave us life.
When you see someone stumbling around in sin, recognize him as your brother. Don’t judge, pray. Be like Ruth.