"Deu 10:17 For Jehovah your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, the mighty, and a terrible God, who does not respect persons nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger in giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear Jehovah your God. You shall serve Him, and you shall hold fast to Him, and swear by His name. "
Many years ago, when I was a young boy we were very poor. We lived in an apartment block or tenement as it is known in Scotland. Our situation was made all the worse by the fact that my father was an alcoholic. My mother did her best to keep food on the table and a roof over her head. Her life was one of constant struggle and juggling one bill for another. She would be forced to prioritize and sometimes we would sit in darkness, the electricity having being cut of. Yet, if the electricity was off, we could always turn on the gas stove and so on. Yet there was one time that my mum had run out of options and had no where to turn. She needed money to pay the rent so that we would not be out on the streets. Warrant Sales were dreaded in our working class community. A warrant sale was when the local court system was made aware of unpaid debts. They would arrange for a time to come to your house and they would have a sale of your "property." This would be advertised in the local paper and was perhaps the most humiliating thing that could happen to you. The little that you had would be sold for next to nothing and typically the debt would not be cleared. In fact many times you ended up deeper in debt because you were charged for the sale itself and the time for the court officers. People who purchased items at these sales were hated.
So, faced with this situation and desperate, my mum turned to the only person she could think of. Sometimes and old Salvation Army woman would stop and talk to her on the street. She was well known in the community for being "real." A woman from whom the love of God shone. So, my mum found herself knocking on Mrs Mapes door. She was invited into the tiny one bedroomed apartment and sat and explained her situation to Mrs Mapes. Mrs Mapes asked her to wait there and she went out and shut the kitchen door. Soon my could hear an argument between Mrs Mapes and her husband. Mr Mapes was reminding his wife of how many times before that they had lent money and they had never gotten it back. Then Mrs Mapes broke down in tears and pleaded with her husband saying "she is different, I know that she is different." It went quiet and the door opened and Mrs Mapes gave my mum the money.
Do you have the love to beg for a stranger? Is your heart still soft? How many of us could relate to Mr Mapes? I certainly could? How many of us know that Mrs Mapes had the heart of Jesus , a heart of love? Yet Mrs Mapes also had said to her husband "she is different." What could Mrs Mapes have known? Was she just saying that? No, I truly believe that the Holy Spirit was at work in Mrs Mapes and in Mr Mapes. And so, the arrangement was that my mom would pay back three pounds each week until the debt was paid off. Every week, without fail, my mum would knock on the door and give Mr Mapes three pounds. After a few weeks Mr Mapes had grown very fond of my mum , he treated her with so much love, just like a daughter. He told her that three pounds was too much of a payment and reduced the payment. When the final payment came, my mum took it and also a box of chocolates. She thanked them and handed Mrs Mapes the chocolates. Mrs Mapes thanked her but gave her them back. She said that she could take no payment for this, no matter how small. It is ironic, but Mrs Mapes payment would come a few years later.
My mum had heard the Gospel when she was a young girl. Now, a woman in her thirties with two young children and an alcoholic husband, she was a smoker and someone who needed valium just to get by, she knew that she needed Jesus. She knocked on Mrs Mapes door on a Saturday and told her that she would go to the Citadel with her tomorrow and that she was going to get saved. There was a long flight of steps that ran from our apartment building down to the Citadel. When my mum got to the top of the stairs, Mrs Mapes was standing at the bottom. She had been standing there praying , waiting, in faith for my mum to come. I can only imagine her joy as she saw my mum at the top of the stairs. They walked down the rest of the stairs and into the Citadel, my mum said to Mrs Mapes that she was "coming home." As they walked in, the band and the choir were singing "Jesus is calling, Tenderly calling, Calling for you and for me." My mother was already weeping. Mrs Mapes said to my mum "why don't you just go down to the penitent seat." This was a place in the Salvation army that was also called the "Mercy seat." It was not a seat, just a place of grace, an alter , a place to meet God. She went forward and Mrs Mapes went forward with her. My mother knelt down and wept and wept and wept. She just kept crying "I am so sorry Lord." She met Jesus that day and when she arose, the Salvationists told her she looked like an angel. My mother went on to become a mighty woman of God. This was the reward for Mrs Mapes.
Mrs Mapes work started as she expressed the love of Jesus on the streets of Greenock. When she wept for my mother, a virtual stranger and begged her husband, her work continued. You see, it was no mere words when she said "but she is different." It was a work of the Spirit. Do you allow the Spirit to work in you? Can you see yourself begging for a stranger? Can you see yourself relenting like Mr Mapes? Yes they had been ripped of many times, but can you imagine how their work for the Lord would be thwarted if they had allowed bitterness and unforgiveness and common wisdom to rule their actions? Oh how sweet is the love of Jesus in the hearts of men and woman. Maybe people have taken advantage of you. Perhaps you have been hurt by people and you just do not reach out anymore? Oh brothers and sisters, none of us can know what the Lord has in store for us, for those of us with hearts that follow after Him. He knows the bigger picture. If you lack this kind of love today, wont you cry out to the Lord? Without this love for the world, for the lost, for the unsaved, the unchurched, we can do nothing. Let us all pray today that the Lord would move in our hearts and that our hearts would be filled with His love.