Take the Time
Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. Luke 19:5
Rima, a Syrian woman who had recently moved to the United States, tried to explain to her tutor with hand motions and limited English why she was upset. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she held up a beautifully arranged platter of fatayer (meat, cheese, and spinach pies) that she had made. Then she said, “One man,” and made a swishing sound as she pointed from the door to the living room and then back to the door. The tutor pieced together that several people from a nearby church were supposed to visit Rima and her family and bring some gifts. But only one man had shown up. He had hurried in, dropped off a box of items, and rushed out. He was busy taking care of a responsibility, while she and her family were lonely and longed for community and to share their fatayer with new friends.
Taking time for people is what Jesus was all about. He attended dinner parties, taught crowds, and took time for interaction with individuals. He even invited Himself to one man’s house. Zacchaeus, a tax collector, climbed a tree to see Him, and when Jesus looked up, He said, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:1–9). And Zacchaeus’s life was changed forever.
Because of other responsibilities, we won’t always be able to take the time. But when we do, we have a wonderful privilege of being with others and watching the Lord work through us.
Jesus’s ministry is a remarkable contrast to our tendency to live a fast-paced life pulled in countless directions. Even though everyone needed Him, Jesus never seemed to rush. In Luke 8, while on the way to a dying child, Jesus lingers to heal a woman in the crowd (vv. 43–48), even though the child dies in the meantime (v. 49). Similarly, in John 11, after hearing His beloved friend was sick (v. 3), Jesus lingers (vv. 5–6). And in Luke 19, Jesus notices and takes the time to reach out to a man who had climbed a tree just to see Him (v. 4).
Jesus’s example reminds us that we don’t love others best through harried attempts to meet everyone’s needs, but rather when we’re fully present to those around us.