“My sheep know my voice” (John 10:4). Christ’s faithful lambs know His voice because they are used to the sound of it. Because they commune with Him often and hunger for the words that fall from His lips, they recognize the tone and rhythm of His precious words. They can tell at once whether He or a stranger is declaring peace. They know His voice because it speaks good to their souls. His word of peace humbles souls, cleanses from guilt, transforms lives, melts their hearts, and endears Christ to them.
Every time we look at the cross, Christ seems to say to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.
To be sure, sometimes truly helping someone demands tough love, matching assistance with signs of repentance. Sometimes we must refuse to give a handout that would simply allow someone to remain enslaved in sinful habits. But our criterion for refusing to give assistance can only be whether our action can genuinely help the person, not whether he deserves the help or whether we will be inconvenienced.