Most people would be happy to walk a mile in a pair of plush designer shoes or top-of-the-line athletic shoes, but how many would want to step into a poor laborer’s shoes? When I was living in Uganda, East Africa, I found a discarded pair of shoes that became to me a symbol of Africa and its sweet-spirited but struggling people.
It was apparent from the cement splatters that their last owner had been a construction worker. Like many others I observed there, he no doubt worked long days in sweltering heat with no protection against the sun and had only a couple of sticks of raw sugar cane for lunch. He had worn those shoes until the holes in the soles had gotten so big that the shoes no longer served their purpose. When there was no point in wearing them one more day, he left them for me to find. It wasn’t his intention, of course, but those shoes put my own petty problems into perspective.
There wasn’t any question in my mind when, some time later, a young man knocked at my door, asking for help. He had won a scholarship to a boarding school, but there was one requirement he couldn’t fulfill—he didn’t have any shoes. He asked if I had an extra pair I could give him. The ones I was wearing at the time fit him quite nicely, and that was that.
No, one simple act of kindness didn’t make me a saint on the level of Mother Teresa, but I do believe that in that moment I experienced a touch of what motivated her all those years: “The love of Christ compels us.”
Proverbs 18:2 ESV – A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 14:29 ESV – Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Proverbs 17:27 ESV – Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.