On the farm, in the yard where we kept the chickens, you noticed something. Some poor hen ranked at the bottom of the pecking order–a real phenomenon, by the way–and could literally be pecked to death by all the others. Unless someone stepped in and protected her, her life was miserable and grew worse by the day.
Humans don’t play foolish games like that, do we?
Let me tell you a story.
Bill was a big awkward, homely guy. He dressed oddly, and drew the attention of a few fellows in the shop where he worked, guys who enjoyed making fun of him.
One day someone noticed a small tear in Bill’s shirt and reached over to rip it a little more.
It became a joke that morning. Anytime anyone passed Bill, they tore the shirt just a little more.
Bill was hovering over a machine, working on it, when the ripped part of his shirt got caught in the wheels. Inside of two seconds, he was in real trouble. Alarms sounded and someone shut off the machine just in time and trouble was averted.
The foreman had seen all this. He walked over, pulled the switch on the power for that section and called the men around.
He said, “I’ve been watching you fellows, and it’s time for us to have a talk.”
“Guys, when I was young I worked in a small factory. We had a big galoot there named Mike. Now, Mike was happy and strong, witty and loud, and he enjoyed playing his little jokes. We also had a fellow on the crew named Jake. Now, Jake was older than the rest of us. He was quiet as a mouse, stayed by himself, and minded his own business.”
“Jake being a loner, he always ate his lunch by himself and never joined in the card games or horseshoes during the lunch hour. Now, for reasons known only to him, big Mike loved to pick on Jake. Sometimes he’d put a frog in his lunch pail or a dead rat in his hat. And, Jake took it all in good humor.”
“Then one day when the work was slow, big Mike announced he was taking off a few days to go hunting. If he did good, he’d share the meat with the rest of us. Sure enough, the next Monday he was back and had shot a big buck.”
“At lunchtime he was going to give each of us a package of meat. And, Mike told the rest of us, He was going to play a little trick on old Jake. He had taken the deer’s hooves and ears and tail and packaged to give to him. It would be a big joke.”
“When Mike gave each man his package, he unwrapped it and thanked Mike. Finally, Mike pushed the big package to Jake, sitting by himself down at the end of the table. And Jake did something that surprised everyone.”
“He stood up and gave a speech.”
“This from a man who hadn’t said a hundred words in three years.”
“I knew you wouldn’t forget me, Mike.”
“You’re big and you’re playful, but I knew all along you had a good heart.”
“I know I haven’t been too chummy. But I never meant to be rude.”
“You see, I’ve got nine kids at home, and my wife is an invalid. She’s been in the bed the last four years. She’s not ever going to get well, and it takes most of what I make for doctors and medicine. And sometimes there’s not enough to make ends meet.”
“Maybe you see I go off by myself to eat. I guess I’m a little ashamed for you to see I don’t have any thing between my sandwich. Today, there’s just a raw turnip in my pail.”
“But this really means a lot to me because tonight my kids will really have a….”
He wiped the tears and tugged at the string to open the package.
Big Mike jumped for that package but Jake already had it open. One by one he pulled out the hooves and the ears and the tail.
No one laughed. No one moved.
Jake mouthed “thank you” to Mike and tried to smile.
One by one every man in the room got up and put his package of meat on the table in front of Jake.
And no one ever played a prank in that factory again.”
When the foreman finished, all the crew silently got up and walked away, some of them laying a hand on big Bill with the torn shirt as they passed by.
Do you know that fellow in your office or plant who seems a little strange? You never know what burden they may be bearing.
Do you know that strange family you see at church from time to time? As every family has its secrets, they have theirs and you and I are not privy to it. But one thing we know and can write in stone: They can always use a real friend.
The following verses are all from the same place in the Old Testament, Leviticus 19….
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest…. You shall leave them for the needy and the stranger. I am the Lord your God.” (v. 9-10).
“You shall not curse a deaf man nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.” (v. 14)
“When a stranger resides with you in your midst, you shall do him no wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you; and you shall love him as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (v.32-33).
When our sons were small, since they were a little larger than the other children on the playground, I would periodically talk to them about watching out for the little people who would sometimes be bullied by others.
God wants His children to take up for the mistreated and to stand up to the bullies. Let us be strong in the Lord, my friends. And never fear to take the side of the unfortunate or disadvantaged.
“The righteous is concerned about the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern” (Proverbs 29:7).