About the Author

Jesus writer by day. Mystery writer by night. Patricia Raybon, an award-winning Colorado author, writes on faith, race, and grace. Her debut historical mystery novel, "All That Is Secret," drops Oct. 5, 2021, from Tyndale. Join her on the journey at patriciaraybon.com.

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  1. Patricia,
    I am hearing what you are saying and I do believe that God loves the looter as much as he loves any other sinner. It’s ultimately God’s judgment call, not mine, to make. I can have compassion for the needs that push them toward theft, but how do we turn the young people looting into virtuous men and women? Who is there to meet them with mercy and the blood of Jesus which will wash them clean? I’d go to meet them, but I admit fearing for my life. And why does a black man shoot and kill a young child of his own color whose mother accidentally drove into a CHOP zone? What makes anger rise to the level of taking another innocent person’s life, and what can we do as a society? I am listening…because I wan’t to see it stop. What can I do? How do we turn the tide?
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Thank you for your comment. Like you, I have similar feelings. I also appreciated the writer’s opinion. It made me think. I have no answer. I fear our country is out of control. I’m ready for Jesus to appear.

      • While I appreciate the attempt to try to spiritualize this, I believe a man stealing a loaf of bread because his children are hungry in France a million years ago is NOT a good parallel to this. I’m all for having compassion for people as Jesus asked us to do. What about all the store owners who lost their livelihood? What about them? What about those who were murdered in the attempt to loot? There is no excuse in this country to steal. We are not living in Communist Russia. As a foster parent, I see ALL of the services available to people who need them. We have been walking alongside a Grandmother raising two of her grandkids with no income for a year. There is no need to steal a car seat. They can get one for free here. There’s no need to steal blankets. They can get them for free. There are other alternatives in 2020 America. People get cell phones for free, food, diapers, formula, and much more. You can even get free day care. I believe comparing the needy in America to those looting would be an insult to all those needy who chose NOT to participate in the looting. Not to mention all the damage that the looting did to the just cause that needed attention. It’s a fine line to walk, and I think this devotional crossed it the wrong way. This is just my opinion, of course.

          • Well stated Nicole. There are too many programs and resources available in today’s society. You do not have to steal and kill to get basic necessities!
            They need Jesus in their heart!!!

          • I feel like the character in Les Miserables understood his decision to steal MUGHT have consequences. I feel the looters in the US feel it a their right to do it, and unfair for them to have consequences. There’s a difference. I do appreciate your opinion, and your compassion, but it is my opinion that this whole thing, at the end the day, has gotten out of hand.

        • Thank you, dear Nicole, for your comment. Actually, Victor Hugo’s novel was published in 1862. The critics hated it, saying it promoted moral rot. But the public loved it and it has never gone out of print since. As a story, it offers much food for thought. I tried to offer the same in my humble article. May God help us to hear Him well in these times. With warmest regards, Patricia

          • thank you Patricia. Personally, I feel most of my Christian friends default to a level of legalism I can no longer stomach regarding sin. Your writing inspired me and offered another way to discuss these sensitive topics with my friends.

        • I agree 100% with Nicole. This whole article left me struggling, I wanted to read the comments to see if I was alone.

        • I also agree! This is a very sad and heartbreaking situation, but it’s still wrong…..

        • Greetings Nicole, Do they know they can get them for free? It wasn’t until about 2-3 years ago, we learned that there were services available to me (a different nature but similar scenario). The thing is, we never knew the services existed until it was too late! Since we didn’t know, we didn’t go looking there and no one around us knew to direct us there, not even our medical team. I say this to say, perhaps they don’t know what aid the system could give, perhaps they tried and got turned down time and time again, perhaps they’d seen others tried the system and got turned down, and as a result they got discouraged to even give the system try. We will never know each of their situation just by looking at what they report on TV. We must think deeply about our Savior’s love. It is not solely for us. These are all His children, and they are often treated with disdain. We must not let the images cause us to harbor ill thoughts. We must be a praying people and turn to prayer when these images come across our screens or thoughts. I Imagine how our Savior must feel. His children. The ones He bore pain and suffering, humiliation and torture, just for the love of all of us.

          Thank you Ms. Raybon for your insightful article, and “May God help us to hear Him well in these times.”

          • Thank you, Coreen. None of knows another person’s situation or story until we sit with them and ask. Moreover, people’s lives are complicated. I think that’s why Jesus asked questions of hurting people. “Do you want to be healed?” “Who touched me?” “Do you see anything?”

            As witnesses for Christ, I hope we all can take a step back and ask Him how to respond to other people in our world. When we do, we may rush less to judgment and more to listen. Either way, may we first pause to hear Him. Thank you so much for sharing.

          • Patricia…. ladies. It is providential that I should read this devotional in a book I’m reading this year: My All in All by Robert J. Morgan. This is today’s reading, July 8th. It is my understanding that Patricia is making a point through the “truth” of fiction referencing Les Misérables (there is always truth in good fiction), but what I share here is a true account of an incident which really happened in history, and which captures the theme of her comments. She is clear that Scripture states we should not steal and cites the command against it. What I believe she is appealing to is for us to consider deeper why Blacks who still suffer injustice in a number of ways in America (and their ancestors before them for centuries), to help us to understand oppression. She wants you to think. I share this as a true story simply to make us think.
            Once when Bishop John Sharp (1643-1714) was traveling by horseback, he was accosted by a good-looking young man who held a pistol in trembling hands. Sharp asked him to lower his weapon and, with evident concern, inquired as to his condition. “Sir, sir,” cried the young man, “No words—’tis not the time—your money instantly!”
            “You see I am an old man,” replied the bishop, “and my life is of very little consequence; yours seems far otherwise. I am named Sharp, and am archbishop of York. Tell me what money you want, and who you are, and I will not injure you, but prove a friend.” He then gave the young man some money and asked him to call on him at his house later in the week. The fellow actually showed up, and Sharp counseled him earnestly. Nothing more transpired for a year and a half; then one day the young man knocked on the bishop’s door again.
            “My lord,” he said, sinking to his knees, “you cannot have forgotten the circumstances at such a time and place; gratitude will never suffer them to be obliterated from my mind. You have saved me in body and soul! You have saved a dear and much-loved wife, and a little brood of children, whom I regarded dearer than my life. Here are the fifty pounds, but never shall I find language to testify what I feel.” When we reflect the burden of Jesus Christ—who wants all to come to repentance—every encounter becomes an opportunity. (He references 2 Peter 3:9)

        • I agree with Nicole. Two wrongs never make a right. The looting harmed people just as injustice harms people. The answer is not to look the other way and excuse the looting; this is neither helpful for the small business owners who lost everything they’ve worked for their whole lives, nor is it helpful for the looters who learn to hurt others and feel justified in doing so because they feel hurt. This cycle only leads to more hate and violence, not less.

          One more point, the character in Les Mis was a single individual in need, while the looters are groups of people with varying motives. How we deal with lawlessness–on both sides–will determine the future of our culture. Just as George’s Floyd’s killer shouldn’t be excused, neither should the looters. Otherwise none of us will live safe and free.

          • Donna,

            Two wrongs never make a right — absolutely. What challenges me about Patricia’s article is not “to look the other way and excuse the looting” but to look deeper at the humanity of the people looting. To question my own heart’s response and ask, is my default response to judge or is it to show mercy and love? There are so many complex issues tangled together right now. It’s hard to know which thread to call the most important. I am with you that hatred, violence, injustice, stealing is wrong. There is so much darkness, brokenness. My heart just keeps crying, Jesus, be near and shine your light!

            Thanks for being here and sharing your perspective.

            -Becky

        • Thank you for your write-up. I am touched by your concern. Thank God for what American govt and people are doing to help the less privileged. I think it is a matter of getting back or simply put, need for revenge. Since there’s provision and some go about loothing. I want to reason that those people looth to make some people feel the pains they are feeling. That is why it is good to let go and let God. These people don’t know God of love talk less of experiencing His love. What believers can do is to pray for their hearts to be taken over by Jesus and let their eyes be opened to the sacrifice made for the world by Jesus. Their eyes of understanding must be opened to realise that they don’t have to venge their anger on innocent souls since Jesus asked us to lay our burdens by His feet. We need more prayers for the nation. We are doing same for unsaved souls in Nigeria too. My prayer is that God will heal the world of pains till Christ comes. Stay blessed.

        • They are stealing anything of value that’s left. The big screen TVs, the electronic gadgets, the firearms, are the first things to go. The coffeemakers, sheets and towels, the last.

          Oh, and it is likely none of the damage is covered by insurance. Are you aware that insurance policies contain clauses that state that there is no coverage for damage or losses due to insurrection, riots, or acts of war?

          A large public corporation like Target may be able to recoup its losses by passing them on to consumers in the way of higher prices. But for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of small businesses, there is no recovery. Many have declared bankruptcy. Many more have gone out of business altogether.

          I appreciate your trying to apply the gospel message to these situations, but I must admit I have little sympathy for those who are perpetrating these acts of violence, arson, and theft, and for the most part running away scott free – while so many lose everything, their family businesses, their life’s work.

          Meanwhile, there are people of goodwill working for needed changes in our society who are effectively silenced because the violent acts of others have hijacked their message and stolen the nation’s spotlight.

    • We can abolish systemic racism and white privilege both in our culture and especially in our churches. This is the root of it – that some have followed all the rules of society but were handed the short end of the stick and under the current circumstances, will never see equality. So when the anger of murder and systemic genocide bubbles over, looting is one of the least harmful ways of breaking those societal rules that were only meant for one type of people.

      I don’t expect everyone here to “get it”. I honestly don’t expect many Christians to get it because Christianity in the west has privilege we must be willing to give up. But I’m thankful for Patricia’s article for bringing up this conversation and for pointing to Christ’s love and justice.

      • Your comment that everyone here didn’t “get it” implies that if we didn’t agree with you, then we aren’t as enlightened as you, aren’t willing to go as deep as you, or aren’t seeing the truth that you are seeing. Be on guard, because you are judging us as you think we are judging them. Also, to imply that all of us Christians who don’t agree with you are holding our opinions because of privilege is judgmental as well. You don’t know any of us. Maybe we’re African Americans. Maybe we have African American children. It’s these types of assumptions that come from a place of pride, like you’ve somehow achieved a level of knowledge that the rest of us with other opinions just “don’t get”. Please be careful because your comments weren’t loving.

        Also, to discount my comments because I referenced your parallel as having happened a million years ago instead of 158 years ago is disappointing. I thought we were supposed to be able to dialogue about it. The point I was making was that Les Mis is referencing what was happening during the revolution in France in 1862, not in 2020 America.

        Lastly, to the person who asked if the needy know the services are available, I would say that there may be more that don’t know. I can only speak to the foster system, since that’s the only place I have direct knowledge. I know that not all case workers will tell the parents about these services. I know that in our situation, the parents all were made aware, because I was there when they were told. And they are taking advantage of the opportunities. These opportunities have made it possible for them each to work and try to make some money. It’s a good point you make. I don’t know the answer, either. But looting can’t be an acceptable solution . . .

        Lord, give us wisdom!

    • Thanks, dear Bev, for helping me wrestle over this issue. Our answers probably are found in our prayers, not just in our judgment. I’m grateful for God’s grace to come to Him for direction in these times. When I do, I keep hearing His call first to love. God help me to respond in kind. Warmest thanks for your thoughtful reply.

  2. Thank you for your word this morning!!!! It has stopped me in my tracks and made me re-examine what I have been thinking these last few weeks regarding the looting and rioting. It takes courage to come out and write something like this and I appreciate the courage you have shown. There are laws in this (and every) country and there are consequences to breaking those laws, just as there are consequences to breaking God’s laws. But I have been very judgmental over the last few weeks and I thank you for bringing another perspective to my attention. You have given me a lot to think and pray about. Thank you!!

    • Thanks, dear Becky, for your thoughtful reply. During times like these, indeed, our faith is tested. We also learn that learning to love our neighbor as ourselves is a complicated process. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’m grateful to God for letting us ask the hard questions about how to love as He loves, now and until Christ returns. In His name we pray, indeed. May we run to Him to learn how to love. With warmest regards!

  3. You answered your own question. Exodus 20:15 says, “Thou shalt not steal.” It does NOT say, “Thou shalt not steal, unless you steal an extra Mr. Coffee and give it to your grandma.” This feels like a slippery slope. When the Bible is clear about a behavior being wrong, we should take what it says as the law God wants us to abide by. If I start adding my own caveats, then I’m not following Him in obedience. We are absolutely called to love everyone, but we are NOT called to affirm their sinful choices. Jesus told the woman to “go and sin no more.” It is the church’s responsibility to love the community and to help to provide for those in need. If the local church isn’t doing that, then there is a problem. I’m honestly disappointed in this incourage article.

    • Well said, Amanda. I was going to write, but you have said it beautifully. Thanks!

        • Ladies,
          My heart was grieved to read your comments. While we are all entitled to express our own opinions in this Christ- centered space, surely we should temper them with grace and kindness. I think you missed the whole point of this article. Never did this article condone sinful choices. For whatever it’s worth, I absolutely agree that Jesus called us to repent of sinful behavior. After all, sin is what He paid a great price for. However, our Savior also tenderly cared for the condition of the heart and the brokenness of this world, which is what I believe this sister was calling our attention to. When an author has been brave enough to share from a sincere and humble heart, it’s self- centered to dismiss her voice and say you’re disappointed. Maybe that was not your intention and if I misconstrued your comments, forgive me.

          • I can be disappointed in an article and disagree with the writer without dismissing her. I have a real problem with when it assumed that any time a person disagrees with another that they are either dismissing them, hate them, or are uneducated. It is clear the author writes with a passion and love for Jesus. I just happen to disagree with her. I watched news accounts of the riots and was moved seeing the tears of both black AND white business owners deprived of their livelihoods by the selfish actions of rioters and looters. To quote Thomas Sowell, “ We seem to be getting closer and closer to a situation where nobody is responsible for what they did but we are all responsible for what somebody else did.”

          • Kind thanks, SK, for your loving comment and reply. When I read your words, I thought of what Jesus said of our love, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). It’s always a pretty good place to start. Blessings and many thanks.

          • Dearest Amanda,
            No such assumptions were made
            ( which is why I ended my post as I did).

            I hear and acknowledge all you say, sister. I should have clarified or responded more graciously . Of course, we can all disagree with each other. No one can see perfectly. All I meant was that too often when we as individuals ( I’m really preaching to myself here) focus on getting our own truth and opinions across, the time it takes for us to speak in disagreement gives less space for us to encourage and acknowledge what someone else has to say. No matter what side of the argument you’re on, if sides there must be. Admittedly, tone is difficult to decipher on an Internet forum haha!

            I admire you for being brave enough to share, Amanda!

            I’m thankful for your response and presence here.
            May the love of Christ richly bless you and yours today. Wishing you a wonderful day! 🙂

          • SK, your comment said that your heart was grieved to hear their comments. That implies that there was something to grieve in their comments. Their comments weren’t hateful, judgmental, or sinful. Their comments were their own opinions. I completely agree with them! I think those of us who disagree with this devotional have stated our opinions very lovingly. It’s interesting to me that an opinion other than yours stated with no hatred whatsoever grieves you. Your opinion, different from mine, doesn’t grieve me. That’s a strong statement.

          • Thank you for your response, Nicole! 🙂

            Indeed, I love what you said that different opinions should never translate to being boxed in as wrong, unloving or judgmental. It’s easy to criticize others and point out where they may be flawed, harder still to have the humility and grace to stay silent in the name of love.
            I keep thinking of the verse in James 1:19, “ … let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
            I pray this starts with myself.

            May God pour His love richly into your life and into the lives of your loved ones! Wishing you a pleasant rest of the week!

    • Amanda,

      It’s so interesting how different people can read the same article and come to a different conclusion about the central message. I agree with everything you said. Yes, the Bible is clear about stealing. Yes, Jesus called sinners to sin no more. Yes, we as the Church–local and global–need to step up and practically love the people in our communities and point them to the hope of Christ!

      But Patricia’s article doesn’t leave me disappointed, it leaves me humble and searching and praying.

      Jesus SAW people. He saw them in their brokenness and loved them without condition. That’s my takeaway today.

      Thanks for being here and sharing in this conversation.

      Warmly,
      Becky Keife
      (in)courage Community Manager

      • I wholeheartedly agree with you, Becky. I think sometimes we can read something in a certain mood or personal circumstance and feel differently than we might if we read it another time. When I read the article, I certainly felt Raybon’s love for Jesus, the church, and community. I read it as more of looking for an excuse for the looters’ poor behavior. I don’t condone stealing or destruction of property any more than I would condone infidelity, murder, or disobeying your parents. To me, that was kind of the point- no sin is any worse in God’s eyes, and it shouldn’t be in ours either. So when I encounter it, I won’t affirm it, but I will certainly look for ways to love the person the way Jesus would.

        • Wow – the various comments are all heart-felt but I’ve just started a discussion group based on the book, “Be the Bridge” by Latasha Morrison, which has challenged me BIG time. Yes, I once thought law & order was all we needed but then I learned in a YouTube video recommended by one of our teachers in the group entitled: Holy Post: Race in America, that there are reasons for anger in the black community. What I have come away from everything I’ve observed & experienced today is this: have some mercy toward your fellow man. They are God’s children, too, after all. Micah 6:8 – “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” James 2: 12-13 -“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT!” (emphasis, obviously, mine). Pray to the Father to give all people in this country a new revelation, an awakening that will cause His children to turn to Him, to repent, confessing their sins, and be forgiven by the blood of Jesus. God bless you, Ms. Raybon, for your courage in helping us sort all of this out, helping us discuss such a sensitive issue in an open and informative way. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, telling her to go and sin no more. Reread John 8: 3-11.

          • Dear Linda,
            Thank you you so much for sharing, encouraging, exhorting, and especially for loving everyone in your comments. The resources you cite are excellent, as too. Many thanks for your challenge to study, learn and grow. To heal as a nation, and as believers, we’ll all need to do some serious homework, indeed. May our Christ lead us. Many thanks!

    • I agree. The author surely used the wrong examples of the looting items she saw, there are many thousands of other items that have nothing to do with essential household needs. Stealing from a hard working business is simply wrong. The article is wrong. The author should have focused on the deterioration of the black family in this country. How many examples, documentaries etc. have been done to point all that out. Never mentioned. Giving money does not work. The government programs for years have been nothing but a liberal sham. I focus on God’s word, it is clear, the article is not well done aND IS very biased. Sorry, I cannot possibly support her.

      • Thank you, Thomas, for your comment. This article wasn’t about Black families, but thank you for your concerns. In our nation, there is much to work to do and wrestle over, indeed. As I said, I don’t have every deep wisdom and answers, but I’m grateful the Lord is gracious to let me ponder and ask. When I do, I’m led humbly back to Him. With kind regards, Patricia

    • There’s always a danger in taking only one phrase of an interaction we see in Scripture and using it to support our point. Reducing Jesus’s words to just these which were his last recorded words to her, may make a point, but may also miss the greater point of Jesus’s character and mindset toward her sin and presumably to all of our sin. (And we consistently see his character displayed to all he healed and forgave… and we consistently see him challenging the religious leaders in their readiness to judge and ‘throw stones’, because they were missing what was the point of Jesus life, ministry, death, and resurrection.) The entire playing out of the scene with the woman caught in adultery, was (to me) cloaked in compassion and love for her, and an un-condemning, literally: “who condemns you now?” he asked, after none of those who wanted to stone her ~ challenged by Jesus’s words ~ did. As with the woman at the well who Jesus revealed what he knew about her, his words to ‘go and sin no more’ at the end of this whole situation came from his intimate knowing of her, and his nature to always give second-chances, which have great potential when one has had a transformative grace-mediated encounter with the living God. We get the opportunity to incarnate his love in this needy world, so my prayer would be that he would give us his perspective and insight into these matters, a bigger picture and bigger story in every situation. He is the perfect example of embodied Grace and Truth, and it is a delicate and complicated balance. But I don’t believe he ever just said ‘go and sin no more’ to anyone, without first showing his love and mercy to them.

  4. Thank you for writing this and being brave enough to put it out there! You ask good questions and I agree that we need to be asking questions. How can we model our response to be like Jesus in this time? He gave grace. He listened. He called out good.

  5. Patricia, thank you for your courage and for your powerful words that challenge us to prayerfully examine our hearts and the complexity of the situations that surround us. We need to hear more from you.

    • Sharon, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Indeed, as you say, may we first prayerfully examine our own hearts. When I do, I find much work to do — first in me. Thank you again for replying, Patricia

  6. I agree with Nicole. I grew up very poor; raised by a single mom, barely a roof over our heads, shopped at the Goodwill for our “new” school clothes, lived on food stamps, etc. But stealing was out of the question. We rarely had enough food to fill our stomachs. But stealing would never be an option.
    While we prayed for those looters’ salvation, we also prayed they’d be brought to justice. It’s never right to do wrong. Hope their consciences kept them from getting a good nights sleep even with those brand new sheets and comforters. And the carseat… well, it was more than likely sold the next day on Ebay. Carseats are mandatory in America and the government uses our tax money to give them away free to whomever needs one. And compassion… I choose to have compassion on the store owners. Why do we always feel the need to justify sin and support terrorists in this country? Surely we are living in the last days, when good is bad and bad is good. Even so, Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

    • You’re right, Becki, our circumstances, no matter how dire or difficult, don’t excuse us from wrongdoing. Patricia isn’t saying she thinks stealing is okay, however, she is making a strong case for the power of grace. I am so grateful for that grace that has been offered me – someone underserving of any bit of it. While I’d like to think there’s a list of things I wouldn’t do, my need for Jesus’ forgiveness reminds me otherwise.

      I’m reminded of the way Jesus’ disciples reacted when they found him talking to the woman at the well – how shocked they were that he would consider her, someone whose circumstances and ethnicity they would’ve never given consideration for, and someone they would’ve likely withheld grace from if he hadn’t led the way.

      He is such a beautiful, perfect example, isn’t he?

      • Dear Tasha, thank you so much for pointing us to Jesus. The way He showed love is astounding — and He’s still changing the world. May He bless us with evermore grace as He changes our hearts.

      • Tasha, you’re right about Jesus being the model for compassion. May we all grow to be more like him day to day! That’s certainly my prayer for myself! Jesus also let the little children come to him, ate with sinners, and touched the lepers. He also turned over the money tables and called the pharisees white-washed tombs. So there are many sides to Jesus. We just need to make sure we include them all. That is what can keep us in balance. Not implying that you weren’t . . . just pointing that out . . .

  7. I guess I am understanding this article differently than many others who have commented. I’m not seeing this as a statement about whether or not stealing is criminal behavior – the author unequivocally says that it is and that there are and should be consequences for it. I think she is addressing the tendency to characterize every individual involved in these situations as an irredeemable “menace to society” and pointing out that there are people who feel a level of desperation for survival that most of us (praise God!) can’t relate to. This video explaining privilege always breaks my heart when I look into the faces of young people who have not had so many things I take for granted. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyl4EJhq47A To me, this article was a call to examine my own attitude, and I appreciate it very much! We are most definitely called to “speak the truth”, but we are called to do it “in love”.

    • Rachel I agree. I don’t think Patricia was saying stealing is ok, but it is a call for us as Christians to understand what a person would do these things and do what we can to mitigate those circumstances. I know that there are services available to people who need food, car seats and blankets but not everywhere and not everyone knows about what is available to them. For many, it makes them fill ashamed and less than to ask. I don’t know the answers, but I appreciate her view and prodding us to think.

    • Beautifully said, Rachel. Thank you. I read Patricia’s thought-provoking post from this lens too. Grateful for you adding to the conversation today.

      -Becky Keife
      (in)courage Community Manager

  8. “Is a young looter worse than Christians who cheat on their taxes (or on their spouses)? Or a believer who cheats God of tithes and offerings?”

    Yes! I recall a sermon given years ago by my Episcopal priest: “In God’s eyes, there is no little “s” sin, or big “S” Sin. God’s grace and mercies are great. It is up to Him to judge.

    • Don’t judge me because my sin looks different than yours. We all sin, even those of us who have accepted the forgiveness and love of Christ.

      • Thank you. That is what I thought too- Don’t judge me because my sins and different than yours.”
        And I am reminded that the “1st to enter Heaven beside Jesus was “the good thief”.
        I pray for God’s mercy and grace every day.

    • I absolutely agree with you! It’s all just as bad. Indeed, looting and stealing is just as bad as pride, unrighteous anger, or selfishness I may feel, think, or act on. We must speak the truth in love! In order to do that, we must not compromise either. That’s why I originally said it’s a very fine line to walk . . . There must be truth! We must not compromise that! And there must be love! We must not compromise that either. I’m grateful for a community of believers that allow us to dialogue without canceling us or deleting us because we don’t agree. Dialogue and disagreement are ok as long as they are respectful!!! I wouldn’t have spoken up and stated my opinion a couple of years ago.

  9. I get completely what you’re saying, but maybe we saw different news on television or social media. I know there is a lot of necessities people are facing; how can we not feel compassion for those suffering and lacking, but imagine if all in need felt that because they needed and didn’t have the money to buy, they should just find an opportunity to steal. God is a God of order not disorder. We either choose to obey fully or not at all. To many times we bend God’s word, God’s commandments to accommodate our emotions on a subject we may feel strongly about. I hope I’m not offending anyone with what I’m saying, but we can’t keep saying bad is good or good is bad when it pleases us to do so. We definitely need to pray for guidance and wisdom so we don’t condemn easily, but we cannot compromise our beliefs to the precepts of the world. Of course my heart breaks and I feel for all the suffering in our world; I empathize wholeheartedly. I myself am a minority; I did not grow up in a rich household or was fed with a silver spoon. Everything I have obtained and accomplished has been through hard work and God’s grace. I know what it’s like to lack and worry because you don’t know how you will pay your bills or have enough food to get your family through the month, but I never thought of stealing for it. I prayed and I trusted in God’s provision and He never failed.

    • Thanks, Miriam, for your comment. How blessed you were, growing up, to know and trust the Lord for your needs. Of course, not everyone knows Him yet. As for the news, some networks seem to do more to build up hate, animosity and suspicion between fellow citizens than to build mutual knowledge and compassion.

      So, I look to Jesus. When I do, I find myself judging less. That’s what I was attempting to do in my article. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  10. Patricia, as you know, I’m extremely ill and violently dizzy I can barely sit up. I would like to write more, and if I can, I will. But let me say, before I even read your comments about Hugo’s great novel, just two words sprang to my mind: Jan Valjean.

    I would be most interested to know the races of those responding. I am White.
    Bless you for compassion and brave sharing, and frankly, to In-Courage. I’m surprised they would share it, and appreciate they are listening.
    xo
    Lynn

    • Blessings, dear Lynn. I’m so humbled you would take time to read my article. I continue to lift prayers for your healing. Like you, meantime, I’m compelled by Jesus’ command to love.

      beyond that, He’s perfectly capable of doing the bigger work in people’s hearts. May He bless His people to believe that. With His love, Patricia

      • Your kind words, and prayers for me. So grateful. Pls. see below a fresh comment from me. Will post normally and not on a thread, so will stand out. Providential I should read this today.
        xo
        L

  11. So sad to see the other comments pointing out the exact issue: we can’t seem to help going straight to judgement.
    This was a well written article. I was touched by it. Thank you, incourage and Patricia. ❤️

    • Adrienne, I agree. Patricia’s words gave me a lot to consider and I’m so grateful for her wisdom and heart.

    • Adrienne, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. This issue of judgment is compelling, indeed. In these times, we have plenty of reasons to wrestle with it. Thanks for affirming my humble attempt to try. May Christ keep showing us His way in this journey. In the meantime, many thanks.

    • This saddens me too. I’m grateful for the heart and the writers of incourage. I’m grateful for the conversations. However, reading all the judgements made by white people here thinking there are really resources out right here for BIPOC that we haven’t already tried to access make this feel unsafe and disappointed in the readers of the community. It’s a shame the “love of Christ” shown here is so conditional and un-Christlike.

      • You just assumed we’re all white people? You also assumed that we were being judgmental by sharing our opinions. There was nothing stated that threatened anyone’s safety or should have disappointed anyone. I’m not disappointed because others don’t agree with me. My husband and I have spent the last 2 years of our lives fighting for and helping many families as foster parents. Have you ever been a foster parent? Do you know what that’s like? Do you know how we’ve showed the love of Christ? No, you don’t. Please be careful before deciding that I, or anyone else commenting here, doesn’t have genuine love of Christ (as implied by putting that in quotations in your comment), is exhibiting conditional love or un-Christlike love? I never assumed that about anyone commenting or about the writer herself. I believe the writer came from a good place. I believe that the writer is wrestling with issues and wanted us to wrestle with them ourselves. And so we have and so we are. As you assume things about our hearts, you will want to examine your own. Each of us needs to carefully evaluate our heart motives before we speak. I challenge you to find anything in my comments that was judgmental or un-Christ-like or unloving.

  12. I can’t help but wonder how compassionate some people would be if the looters came to their house and began breaking their windows, stealing the things they worked so hard to obtain, and threatening their family’s lives. It’s a sad day when the police are demonized and thieves are justified. Satan will always twist the truth… he knows Scripture better than any of us.

    • Blessings, dear Lynn. I’m so humbled you would take time to read my article. I continue to lift prayers for your healing. Like you, meantime, I’m compelled by Jesus’ command to love.

      Beyond that, He’s perfectly capable of doing the bigger work in people’s hearts. May He bless His people to believe that. With His love, Patricia

  13. While I fundamentally disagree with much of what Patricia said, I fully agree that we all need to resist the urge to rush to judgment when we see people conducting themselves in ways that we know to be morally incorrect. Surely this can be forum where we can encourage one another to view people through eyes of compassion! My pastor often says that it’s ridiculous for us to expect unbelievers to behave like believers, and be outraged when they don’t. They can’t! Scripture tells us that they are slaves to sin!
    I applaud Patricia for sharing her heart and asking hard questions, and being so gracious in her response to criticism. I also applaud inCourage for publishing a variety of viewpoints. The umbrella that they all fall under is that they encourage us all to ask God how we can better fulfill His command to love Him and love our neighbours as ourselves.

  14. Patricia,
    Thank you for this article. It’s worth considering why we are quick to give grace to some and not others. It reveals so much about the narratives we embraced within the American church.
    I’m so grateful for your deep wisdom, the depth of your love for all, and your insight. Please keep leading us.

  15. So much to think about. I feel badly for those who maybe truly lacked a blanket, but I feel that there was a sinister force at work behind the looting, and supporting those who desire to see anarchy is not the right answer. I can’t help but think about the couple who tried to defend their store and were murdered for that effort. Those store owners aren’t “the enemy”, they were people who worked hard to make a living. I can pray for the poor and the oppressed, and desire to see that change, but I can’t support anarchy and looting. And sadly, even the Bible points out that there will always be poor people. Jean Valjean’s story proves that. In the 1800’s there were no agencies to help the poor, so the situation was a little different. And he was one man…not a dangerous angry mob armed with bricks and guns. And most of 2020’s looters will not serve 19 years in an 1800s era prison. But, I will agree that God loves the ones who stole and it is not His desire to see people wrongly treated because of their economic status or their skin color. And I pray that God will restore order and kindness to our nation…may it begin with me. Lord, help me to love the less lovable in my neighborhood…

  16. I, too, am very disappointed in this writing. I’ve always loved Patricia’s devos and her details and obvious research that goes into such well-written works. Some very pertinent points have been shared here. Yet, we should know that it’s not about judging and certainly NOT about what race any of us are in responding. It seems that our Christian principles are disregarded in this article.

    How can we know that the young man stealing a car seat was doing so for his own child??? Or that the second coffee pot would be a thoughtful gift for a loved one??

    Thank you for your writing and sharing thoughts from another viewpoint, but I’m quite bothered by the thinking behind this.

    Have a wonderful day and love to all of you (no matter your skin color!!)

    • Blessings, Andrea, and thanks so much for your comment. (And your great questions to me.) These days are bewildering, indeed. In fact, I don’t know the motivations of a person doing wrong or breaking the law — or robbing from Target.

      So I look to Christ. When I do, I hear Him asking the crowd ready to stone the adulterous woman: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John: 8:8).

      When He asked this, ” those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

      “No one, sir,” she said. (vv. 9-10)

      “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8: 9-11).

      Andree, this exchange really challenges me against judgment of others. Is my viewpoint correct? I’m not certain. But I wanted to pose the question in our (in)courage community. Thanks for your grace in letting me ask. I sincerely appreciate your feedback. Blessings today, Patricia

      • Patricia,
        Oh dear, now I scroll further and see that my response above (to Amanda, I believe), is very similar to this comment of your’s. I hadn’t read far enough to see it. Anyway, when I first read your post and there were very few comments, I was very grateful for your courageous voice of challenge, encouraging us all to try to allow God to give us his grace perspective in these turbulent times on every front: to the people whose stories (and sin) are emblazoned in the media, throughout our society, social media platforms, our churches, the greater church (of which this is a representation), all the way down to each one of our hearts and minds. Jesus’s way of loving is scandalous which has forever made it eternally liberating no matter how deep the sin is or how it is manifested in our actions. None is exempt, thankfully!! Peace to your heart Patricia as you’ve bravely stepped into the wilderness.

        • Margo, thank you! I’m so grateful you took part in the conversation on the topics I raised. As you say, tense current invite followers of Christ to examine our faith and see how the words and work of Jesus compare to everything else we’re seeing and hearing.

          It can be disconcerting to realize our version of Christianity is at odds with our humble, loving Savior. I pray for His guidance as we follow Him into tough topics and see what we learn. Sincere thanks for walking that journey with this community. Your thoughtful wisdom is a blessing. With His peace!

  17. Thank you, Patricia! You certainly got the discussion going. I don’t see a lot of people giving space for fresh ideas. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to grow. Whether we choose to let our preconceived ideas be challenged is quite another thing. It’s hard to put down fear and anger and explore ways to change what is. May you be blessed. And heard.

    • Thank you so much, Irene. I deeply appreciate your feedback. I don’t know all the right answers in these challenging times. But Christ invites us to see our neighbors as He does. That’s how He changed the world, by challenging the status quo. As we turn to Him, will we have the same courage? To walk in His way — not our own? These are good questions to wrestle over, as His followers. Thanks so much for affirming my attempt to do that today.

  18. Well said Nicole. There’s help for those who have needs. We have to maintain some kind of law and order or we risk total chaos in our society.

    • Thanks, Susan, for your comment. Somehow I can’t imagine Jesus ever using the phrase “law and order” as a benchmark. But thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s important to hear each other.

      • If I remember correctly it’s the Pharisees who are the ones concerned with “law and order” instead of Jesus. Not trying to sound harsh toward anyone, just more concerned about the reaction from fellow believers on here. What you said was challenging and so needed. Thank you.

  19. It’s so easy to sit behind a screen and judge, when really we should ALL be praying for our fellow citizens no matter who they are. I pray we all try to remember we can’t know a person’s heart, but we can pray for God to enter it.

  20. I am challenged by your loving response to criticism, Patricia. You also operate in the same way on Facebook. I wonder how different my interactions would be if I operated with the same love?

    • Heidi, thank you for your kind words. Indeed, you ask a wonderful question. As believers, what if we showed the world more love? If we do, Jesus said the world would then know Him. “By this,” he said, “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13: 35). It’s such a beautiful challenge. May God help us to obey. With warmest thanks, Patricia

  21. Patricia I am with you. Thank you for challenging us to see one another through the eyes of compassion. Your words today have really convicted me about how I might work to lift others up and show kindness when someone does wrong, rather than pass judgement about their situation. I’m grateful others did not dismiss me when I’ve strayed from the right path – indeed it is grace that has helped me move forward. I accept your challenge to learn to love the looters and to SEE them.

    • Whoa! This article should have sat in a drawer for a while until you had a chance to interview the people you are observing and about whom you are making judgements. The article does not come across as well-vetted enough to be published in this broad community. You are judging what you do not know first-hand, thus your conclusions come across as guesses through your own personal lens.

      Of course we love the sinner. Sin hurts them. Being on God’s side means we reach out with compassion with the gospel to the lost, not make excuses for sin, big or little. Someone does not need to have good intentions when they sin for us to share God’s grace with them.

      • Blessings, Mary, and thanks for your comments. (In fact, your feedback made me laugh!) As a humble writer, I’m sure I’ve written plenty of articles that should’ve stayed in the drawer! (I’ll never forget your words. Love that!)

        This time, however, I stand by this one. During hard times, it’s good to step back and reflect. That’s what I tried to do in this piece. In fact, I’m challenging myself to keep wrestling with the questions I tried to raise. Thanks so much for providing your feedback, too. With warmest regards.

    • Amen, Ashley. Looking back at my life, and judging it by the world’s standards, I’d never make the cut. May we leave the judgment to God and seek to see each other in love. Deepest thanks for your wonderful reminder!

  22. Thank you for your bravery and courage in both writing and posting this devotional. I read a few of the comments, but felt an urge to stop after tears filled my eyes. I appreciate you, and pray that God continues to fill you with His peace. Thank you, Mrs Raybon!

  23. Patricia,
    I really appreciated your devotional and the spirit in which it was written. You weren’t condoning the looting, you were just asking some important questions. I live in rural Mississippi. My husband is a family practice doc who came here to serve those who have limited access to healthcare. Are their services available? Yes. Can you get supplies for babies and families? Yes. But there are still so many challenges. What do you do when your child’s Medicaid services have been cut off and you don’t find out until you are at the doctor’s office with a sick child? Happens all the time here…if you can find a doc who takes Medicaid. How do you get to a WIC office for the supplies you are eligible for when you have no car and there is no public transportation? You have to pay someone. And sometimes those people take advantage of your need to exploit you. Working with teenagers in our community, we have seen that even the simplest tasks can be almost insurmountable. Getting a driver’s license for instance. You have to have two proofs of residence, along with your birth certificate and social security card. Those proofs of residence can be pretty hard to come by when you sleep on a different relative’s couch every night.
    I am by no means condoning the looting or the looters’ motives. I am just saying poverty in America is not a simple thing. There are no easy answers. As believers we need to listen closely to the heart of God.

    • Amy, thank you. You paint an urgent picture of the despairing ways that many people struggle, even in this country. May God help us as believers to see how and why people make “wrong” choices — not by judging, but first by listening to Him. Then by seeing and listening to them. Blessings, indeed, on your husband’s medical practice. May his witness for the Lord, and your living support, bless many with good health and hope. With warmest thanks.

  24. What has struck me reading this thread this morning is the deep division of thought concerning not only this but many more issues in our country. We can all have the love of Jesus, but see things differently. It’s interesting to read that the commenters that took issue with some of Patricia’s piece are now being “judged” by the commenters that were in agreement with her points. This happens in secular threads also. We talk of civil debate lacking anymore and while there is nothing “uncivil” in any remark made on here, there’s quite a lot of, for lack of a better word, “virtue signaling”. I don’t want to debate anything and won’t comment one way or another again on this, but just an observation and an opinion. I don’t need to be told what Patricia or any of the other writers “mean”. We will come at things in our way, hopefully with prayer and discernment from God’s Word. In the end, that’s all I need to hear.

    • Heather, thank you. Your thoughtful response is deeply important. Our deep divisions must surely grieve the Lord. May He lead us out of this wilderness into His light. Sincere thanks for calling us all to that high ground.

  25. Wow. That was pretty ‘heavy’ to read all the comments! I would just like to add that I don’t think it is the actual ‘reason’ for the looting we should be ‘concerned’ with, but our own personal heart attitude toward these people. It’s kind of like if you were to give money to a beggar, or not, because you don’t trust what they will do with the money. I was taught that if God urges you to give money, or possessions, give – that part is between you and the Lord. What THEY do with it is between THEM and God. I’m just thinking our world needs more of a balance between compassion and taking a stand on what is right. Just like Jesus loves all the people, but won’t tolerate sin, it breaks His heart as it should ours, too. Thank you for giving us all something to think about. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

    • Patty, you bring up such a vital point — that there’s real tension between compassion and standing for what’s godly. During these trying times, may God lead us as we struggle over these issues. More than all, however, may He show us how to love. Kindest thanks for your comment, Patricia

  26. Patricia, thank you for sharing this post. I also appreciate your graciousness in responding to those who missed the heart behind your words. You are a courageous woman.

    Jesus came because our world is messy. We are called to step into the mess, not get caught up on what we see, but seek to know hearts.

    Thank you for adding some much needed tension to those who think or feel like racism, looting and protests are a “them” problem. This is an “us” issue.

    As an African-American sister in Christ, I have been so disheartened by the lack of listening and learning by so many who love Jesus but are so quick to use their words instead of seeking to understand what doesn’t make sense or makes them uncomfortable.

    Jesus left us a precious example in how he connected with dishonest, dishonorable and the disenfranchised. There are far too many comments that do not lead with Jesus’ heart for people.

    Why are people looting for household items? It’s not for any of the reasons that you think, friends. The challenge is for you to get to know people who live in circumstances that desperate and then, you’ll discover what God wants you to see.

    • Dear Barb,
      Thank you so much. Your insight calls us to higher ground, to examine our own hearts, to seek first to listen — than to rush to make our point. As you affirmed, the triple whammy of racism, looting and protests become prime territory for judgment, closed hearts and “us vs. them” reactions.

      Jesus offers His church a different way. To sit and eat with people, learn of their lives and, as you say, get to know them. As we seek those opportunities, He will open doors to learn. I pray with you that God’s Church and her people run to Him and ask Him to lead. With kindest thanks for your thoughtful comment. Much peace, Patricia

  27. Moved to tears. Challenged in my own heart to consider my own reaction/response to looters, to broken people, to the lost. I don’t know the answer either. I know I don’t want to make some ingenious, grandiose gesture. I feel nudged to the more personal acts of hearing individual’s stories, building relationships with marginalized people and praying Christ will transform me.

    • Same here, Julie Joiner. When I think of the many ways that I have fallen short in the Lord, I’m grateful for His grace — and pray for the same to offer to the weary world. May He transform us all. Kind thanks for your thoughtful words and heart.

    • That’s it in a nutshell, Julie: personally building relationships with marginalized people and waiting and watching to see how our hearts will be changed. Our pastor once suggested that God gives us more than we need so that we can experience the same joy He does in giving to others. I’m grateful for the programs, but they can keep ME impoverished if I am not making personal connections with others: those who can give to me (love, support, challenge) and those to whom I need to give (love, validation, maybe goods or services). Systems and services don’t provide relationships. To be in relationship with God and others is what we need to thrive. As an introvert, I have often watched from a distance and drawn conclusions. Recently, I have volunteered at a “rescue mission” where I have met other broken people working to heal, to overcome the odds they inherited as children, to believe the love and forgiveness Jesus offers could even be meant for them! And what has humbled me above all else is the love and acceptance these ladies have shown me, in spite of the fact I have never had to sell my body for food, leave my child in the care of someone who allowed them to come to harm, or endure mental/emotional pain so deep that an addiction seemed the only way to numb and endure my life. What I have learned at the heart level is that there is no true difference between “Us” and “Them”, because I am equally a sinner before a just God who chose to show mercy. My covenant with the Lord is to first listen long and hard for understanding; and secondly to act personally where I can to offer connection to the disenfranchised. I believe change will occur first within individuals, and then between us as we care for one another.

  28. Very well said. Many Churches don’t speak on tithing yet we Rob God on thithing the first 10th of what we earn. I didn’t know I had to do it until I was told not did my Husband. It is in Malachi 3 about it. Yet we if we do it if saved are robbing God. It God who give us all we have. The Money we have the job we have etc. So it is good to give back to good. If saved it God word we his followers have to live by. Listen to what his Holy Spirit says. Not judge people but love them like he does in his word. Thank you Patricia for speaking the truth. Me and my Husband all those years ago got a wake up call about about tithing and now we do it and we give to God work as well. God never once has let us down. As it is God money all ready. We love to give back to God what he has already has given to us. To say thank you do what it says in his word. Praying still for your Daughter and her Family. Dawn Ferguson-Little Xxx

    • Reading this well written article causes all of us to pause and examine our hearts as we strive to really listen to one another and learn from one another . Ladies, let us Listen with humility, learn with patience, and speak with grace..

      From one of Patricia’s earlier incourage.me articles are wise words as she reminded us of what Jesus said:
      “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
      Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
      Yes, being humble makes us more like Jesus — the Healer of our land and of us. At His feet, we rest in His beautiful presence — praying, turning from our wicked, ornery, resentful, tiresome, judging, hypocritical ways. Then, the sound and fury of this pandemic? He heals it. And as people work together, not against one another, He heals us.”

      May we all as ambassadors of Christ be “ quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry ” (James 1:19) as we pray to Him to heal our land and heal our hearts.

  29. Oh ,my, ladies . Look at the fire storm that our beloved Patricia started! This is a brilliant woman. Look at how shes made us all react. I have throughly enjoyed everything that Ms. Raybon has ever written because she causes us to ‘come let us reason together ‘ All I know is when I stand before my precious Savior it’s going to be between me and Him and no one else. No one. This should cause us all to fall on our knees in reverence and healthy fear. Stop the hate Christian women of faith. It’s not becoming. We are no different than our secular sisters. Keep on writing Ms Raybon because you sure know how to keep us close to the Father! Brilliant! Thank you Becky K. For being the bigger, braver person in posting this!

    • Dear Dee (and Linda),
      Kind thanks for your feedback and comments. I didn’t intend to start a fire storm. In fact, i regret the discussion turned into that on some fronts. Even so, I’m grateful my topic revealed the depth of division among hearts here. It shows how deeply we all need to be in prayer. As someone here said, this isn’t about looters as much as it’s about our hearts.

      In fact, we might consider having an (in)courage Bible Study in Ephesians 4, where Paul writes about unity and maturity in the Body of Christ. As you probably know, Paul concludes that chapter saying this:

      “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

      May the great apostle’s words penetrate each and every heart. Then, as we learn to love each other, the world can see our Christ. Thank you for sharing Him with me here today! With peace and love, Patricia

  30. While I neither agree nor disagree with all that has been said, what I am most grateful for is the fact that we are having the conversation.

    We can all express our feelings but let us remember that to err is human to forgive is divine. Our best is to pray and to be as gracious as humanly possible and to remember that we are all sinners saved by God’s grace through Christ.

    • What immense privilege you have if you can’t “choose to” agree or disagree. Jesus always picked the side of the oppressed, and he hates the lukewarm. Shame this is what white Christianity has become.

      • Perhaps if you had really thought about what I said you might have realized that what I was trying to impart is that everyone has an “opinion” and that’s all we have. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the light” and no one comes to the Father but through me. I can forgive anyone but my forgiveness cannot transform anyone and my thinking about what is right or wrong will not bring conviction of what is right or wrong. That TRUTH is purely the right of the Father through His Son.

        My point is that it matters not what I agree with and what I don’t agree with. Everyone has a certain amount of validity to their thoughts. My point is that this is not a debate where one side wins. This is a fight that only Christ can win over Satan who’s intent is destruction. So best we pray and pray and pray again for when we pray we help release all the fury of Heaven against the real enemy.

    • Dear Loretta,
      Your kind spirit speaks Christ, and I thank you for commenting today. If anything, my humble post revealed the depth of the divisions in the Body of Christ, even within (in)courage! I regret deeply that my thoughts stirred up such harsh words. (You got a taste of that.) But all the comments remind us how deeply we must turn our hearts to Christ in prayer and linger there — deep in His loving heart. Yes, O God, heal your people well. Show us, indeed, how to love.

      With His grace and hope, Patricia

      • Bless you sweet sister. No need for apologies. We need to have this conversation!! All the more reason we must pray so that Christ and he alone is our focus. I believe that we will not come to total agreement and that’s ok as long as we commit to loving our neighbor as we would like to be loved and be the person we want others to be. We will not see total agreement this side of Heaven And that’s ok as long as we do not allow our differences to define us.
        Keep on keeping on and may God use you for His purposes. Much love to you and all my sisters in Christ

  31. I’ve been extremely concerned over the sentiment of this whole conversation. While we are commanded to love sinners, we are to love and obey God more. God is love, but He is also the Judge and He demands justice. And if we want to be like Jesus, we must also love God and His law of justice. That law of justice put Jesus on the cross for my sins. It has to be paid for. My son is a police officer. Would you feel as much compassion for the looters if YOUR child was called upon to go into those riot filled streets to help diminish the lawlessness of looters in such a dangerous situation and complete chaos? That is where your compassion needs to be extended. To our loyal Police Officers who risk their lives day in and day out so we can live safe lives. My husband is a “man of color” and our son is one half “man of color”, and yes, I suppose they’ve felt the sting of racism more than once. But they are men of integrity and rose above the obstacles because they love the Lord, their jobs, and this country. Our son is chief of police, in fact, and is in that position because he earned it. My husband was in the military for 8 years and has been a preacher of God’s Word for over 30 years. So, yes, we love people of every race and color and gender, but we would be doing them an injustice if we condoned their sins because they were done in desperation and never told them that there’s coming a day when they will have to give an account for their sins. Their blood would be on our hands. Patricia, you would have done well to stay within the boundaries of Biblical instruction rather than showing a display of untamed emotions. If I trusted my feelings, I’d foster every child and dog they show on tv. Some subjects really need careful thought and lots of prayer before being written and published. Touche… Mary O’Conner.

    • Becki, thanks so much for adding to our conversation here. I, too, know of several police officers that are certainly men (and women!) of integrity. My husband served in the military for 26 years, and I know well the frustration of having the needed work he’s done met with skepticism or lumped in with the work of other people in a similar position who have abused that position. Please know I have compassion and understanding towards how you must worry about your son whose own service places him in dangerous circumstances.

      Having said that, I do believe Patricia’s post is within the bounds of Biblical instruction and not springing from untamed emotions. Instead of being emotional, Patricia’s post calls us to be reflective, not reactionary. Patricia is not asking us to excuse looting. She states the truth that stealing is wrong and has consequences. However, when we see and hear of it, might we find our own inner bishop—like the one Valjean met—rise up who responds to it with compassion rather than knee-jerk cynicism? With intentional prayer rather than dismissiveness? That is the challenge I take away from her valuable perspective in this post.

      Thank you for sharing here, Becki—I appreciate you sharing your own valuable perspective.

      Kristen–longtime (in)courage contributor

  32. I really have been pulled as to whether to comment or not, so I will just try to say what is in my heart. Every morning I get up and look forward to my devotional from incourage but I have been dreading them lately as they seem to be getting political, especially the other day by Reyes, it actually upset me very much. But today I read Patricia’s with heart ache and a little bit of amusement (the extra coffee pot), sorry Patricia. Maybe you did not mean for it to have humor in it, but I saw the same thing you did and I wondered why the extra coffee pot?? I understand everything the ladies are all saying here but I would like to say just a couple of things: it breaks my heart everytime I see a couple who have lost everything in the fires and they are black and the ones setting the fires are white and I get very angry at these young riot/mobs and watch them going after anyone that gets in their way regardless of color. I worry about our police and the young people screaming to “defund” them and what will happen to our towns then. My prayers every morning now start with Psalm 85:4-9 and I ask God to bring a miracle to our land because we surely neeed one.

    • Thanks so much, Judi. I hear your concerns. I could’ve written something else, I suppose. Same with the other good women on the (in)courage writing team. But I feel humbled on some days to take hard questions to the Cross.

      That’s what I attempted to do here. Whenever I do, the Lord is gracious to meet me there — reminding me that He is God, He sees all, and my humble work is to trust Him and love others like Christ. That works to great effect in my marriage, family, church, neighborhood, town, and hopefully in my nation. While we wait on Jesus May it also work in my heart. Thank you for granting me the grace today to try. With peace and love, Patricia

    • Hi Judi,
      I’m sorry that Dr. Michelle Reyes’ post upset you. I gently implore you to view racism not as political but as sinful, worthy of (the Biblically sound practice of) lament, as Dr. Reyes suggested. I appreciate your starting the day in that specific Psalm; verses 7-8 especially spoke to me:
      Show us your faithful love, Lord,
      and give us your salvation.
      I will listen to what God will say;
      surely the Lord will declare peace
      to his people…

      Here’s to peace.

      Anna Rendell
      (in)courage Digital Content Manager

    • Hi Judi ~

      As one of (in)courage’s original contributors, I appreciate your practice of reading our devotions to begin your day! Thank you for that encouragement. 🙂 But, of course, it’s disheartening to learn you’re now, instead, dreading them. Because I care about you, our writers, and our entire community, I thought it might be helpful to pull back the curtain a bit; I’m treading carefully, begging the Lord for the “right” words, and hopeful you (and/or others) will hear my heart. I can promise you from the behind-the-scenes conversations we’re having as a writing team, our desire is to honor the Lord in the telling of our stories and lovingly point our community to Jesus. Scripture is our counsel and guide, and we proclaim the excellencies of His word; Colossians 3:12-14 is our lofty pursuit–

      “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (NIV)

      Just about everywhere unity is elusive these days, and there is only one enemy who is reveling in it. Satan is brilliant in how he divides and conquers, and in how he distracts us. I hate him.

      We aren’t trying to be political at (in), and yet, with our country’s climate in this season, we’re all wrestling with hard and heavy things (just like everyone else!). We don’t claim to have all the answers, and I’m learning that asking difficult questions is bringing me closer to the heart of God.

      I was challenged by Michelle Reyes’ essay in part because “lament” is a relatively new concept and/or practice to me…and yet it’s Biblical! Gracious–reading through the Psalms is a master class! Also, stumbling across an article from DesiringGod.org recently exposed me to further thought about lament: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dare-to-hope-in-god

      I’d like to invite you (and anyone else who’s up for a challenge) to a practice I’ve begun that may not be easy but is helpful and healthy: to ask myself what I can learn when I read something that bothers me or raises my defensiveness. Is it because the content is counter- or extra-Biblical? Is it strictly an opinion piece with no substance, preaching to a choir of like-minded readers? Or is the Holy Spirit doing heart surgery, transforming my mind to renew my heart? Is the Spirit bringing conviction of sin or helping me to see with new eyes? Transformation can be painful and it’s often complicated, but the end result is good :).

      Oh, dear! I did NOT mean to write so much!! But re-reading Patricia’s post today along with the comment thread has given me much to ponder. Thank you for stirring a lot of thoughts, and especially for pointing us to Psalm 85, a beautiful psalm of communal lament!

      • Robin, I so love your suggestions on what to ask when something raises our defenses. So very helpful. Thanks also for your insight on “lament.” All so timely for these days. My warmest thanks!

  33. I have not taken the time to read all these comments but my concern is for the hard working people of this country who may have to end up paying higher prices at stores because of losses due to looting. And I have been saddened to learn about shootings in New York and New Jersey recently because if black lives matter in interactions with police, shouldn’t black lives matter even more so in their own communities? I can’t even imagine the heartbreak that God is feeling these days.

    • Blessings Carol — and thanks for your comment. I can hear your worry about business owners impacted by looting — as well as other problems related to the protests. As believers, as we witness things in life that grieve us, that’s opportunity to pause in prayer. As for the Lord’s feelings, He has known for centuries the many wrongs and injustices plaguing our nation. May we not grieve His Spirit any longer and work together to forgive one another and heal. Thee is much work to do. But nothing is too hard for God. With His love and hope, Patricia

  34. I’ve been thinking about your article all day, Patricia. Thank you for pushing all of us to think about justice and compassion. In these times, it’s so easy to judge and dismiss people, but you have humanized this situation in a unique way. I love your connected to the Les Mis story. These words inspire me: “This bishop’s kindness is the key turning point in the novel, placing Valjean on track to a redeemed life — helping transform a common thief into a man of virtue, who in the end helps transform others.” I am know I’m not chosen to be the judge so I’m thinking about how to administer kindness and compassion that transforms others. Lead on, my friend

    • Thank you, Dorina. I can relate, indeed. The bishop’s response to the thief is an action not easily shaken off or forgotten. So is Jesus’s response to the thief on the cross. These responses stretch us while transforming us — so we can offer the same transforming grace to others. In times like these, the Lord invites us to sit at His feet and ponder deeply over such turning points. Thank you for walking with us on this life-changing journey. With warmest love and thanks!

  35. Patricia,
    This is a powerful piece. Thank you for writing it and allowing us to read it.
    During my teen and young adult years, my father was a police officer. At the same time, ‘F**k the Police,’ a song and sentiment towards police officers was made popular by NWA. My peers would chant the lyrics and dance. Sometimes when my dad was on foot patrol in a neighborhood where police officers where most unwelcome, residents would blast the song from their houses so that my dad could hear it.
    True to my dad’s character, he wouldn’t get upset. He would shock them by dancing to the song! He gave them a dance show!
    While my dad and I did not agree with the sentiment and words of the song, we had the capacity to hear the lament. We had compassion for the lament behind the lyrics. We heard the humanity behind the lament. We didn’t judge folks for feeling frustration as they collided with policies that enforced poverty and punishment (for being poor) upon them.
    I think that because we heard their humanity, they in turn saw ours. My peers would amend the lyrics in my presence. Everywhere that my father patrolled, crime significantly decreased.

    If I can have compassion for settlers who looted land from Natives and destroyed lives to gain a foothold in our new nation, I can certainly have compassion for someone who in desperation steals bread or a carseat.

    Also, I had to look up the word ‘hovel.’ So thank you for that…lol

    You are amazing. I am honored to read your words.
    Shalom
    LCB

    • Wonderful Lucretia,
      I love your Dad just from hearing that story! What grace. What a deep heart. What understanding. What an ability to see the humanity of others beyond their actions, words, or loud music. That comes from a lifetime of giving’s one heart to Christ and letting Him change it. Thus business of loving others is serious business, indeed. Thank you for pointing us to His high road. Then, may our Christ grant us the strength and grace to walk it. With my deepest thanks. Shalom!

    • Lucretia, this image of your dad’s approach to that difficult situation makes my day. In my own life, I’m encouraged to look for creative ways to “dance” instead of taking offense when taking offense may be my first recourse.

      Also, this: “If I can have compassion for settlers who looted land from Natives and destroyed lives to gain a foothold in our new nation, I can certainly have compassion for someone who in desperation steals bread or a carseat.” That’s a powerful statement that I won’t soon forget.

      Sending love!

      • HI Kristen!
        Thank you for reading and hearing my heart! I forgot to add that my dad is a great dancer!…lol.

        Patricia is a gracious and talented teacher. I pray we are able to receive the gifts that God graciously gives us through her.

        May we be aligned with the intentions of Father, Son, and Spirit.

        LCB

  36. Patricia, I wrote this above, but I’ll say it again here: Your post inspires me to look for my own inner bishop so I might respond to looters with compassion rather than cynicism. I’m challenged and blessed by your words here and so grateful to you for sharing them in the first place!

    Sending love!

    • Dear Kristen,
      Your words ring beautifully in my heart. “My inner bishop.” I don’t expect to forget that phrase anytime soon! These urgent times are challenging us in new ways indeed. May God lead us gently through this heart-growing season. With warmest thanks!

  37. Thank you, Patricia. I just finished listening to a discussion on Faith & Prejudice, and interestingly the same subject was discussed by the speakers. Listening to others, understanding why, asking how we can help. Kindness is key. The church needs to lead in this area. I appreciate you sharing from your heart. God bless and keep you.

  38. Wow – I just want to say that I can hear and connect in some way, with all the comments made, on whichever aspect of the situation,
    When a Christian parent whose daughter has been murdered brutally, can bring herself to forgive the perpetrator, there is still an expectation that justice wil be served. But I think that you were trying to say (and you did it very well,) is perhaps best said by recollecting a very powerful book I read recently. I haven’t read the first book by Bob Goff, “Love Does” but I read “Everybody, Always” and I think that says it succinctlyy. He brought a witch doctor to justice for unthinkable atrocities against a young boy, (whom Bob rescued and had medically rehabilitated) and later visited the witch doctor in prison, offering God’s love to the man, which eventually led to a school to educate witchdoctors, so they could turn away from their evil practices, among other benefits. And I do so much admire your courage and patience and grscious loving heart, Patricia, when some replies may have seemed more than a little ungracious, I do hope we all may be better than that. I know I constantly need to check my heart in order to love others. May God bless you., and may we all go to God for help in loving – everybody, always.

    • Blessings, Camilla — and thank you for your thoughts. (And your reading suggestion — Bob Goff’s books.) As you say, “everybody always.” That’s who needs love and when. Thanks so much for sharing this urgent reminder.

  39. This writing is nothing more than justification of stealing. Rugs? Lamps? TWO coffee makers? We and our children made due with the least expensive car seats as they grew . . . . . we liked and wanted the fancy schmancy car seats, but they did not fit our budget so we bought the least expensive. Did you know car seats are available FREE OF CHARGE? The looters were not stealing necessities; they were stealing things they like and want. That is unacceptable and a crime per God and His standards. I find that I tend to be quite compassionate, and not just in thought but in deed, as our good Father tells us in the book of James that “faith without works is dead.”
    I am not being racist nor insensitive. This is not a race based debate, as it does not matter what the looters’ skin colors were/are. This is not based upon socioeconomic needs, as absolutely ANYthing needed (not wanted) by individuals in the US is available at no cost thanks to the government, churches and nonprofits, not to mention through me and very possibly you. Lastly, we do not base our reasoning on books and our own thinking, as our good Father also tells us in Proverbs that “there is a way that seems right unto man, but its end is the way to death.” God is certainly merciful and gracious, AND He expects us to obey His guidelines regardless of the circumstances. It is not permissable to destroy someone else’s property nor steal it. I am quite flabbergasted by the assertions you put forth in this writing, Patricia. That being said, may we live mercifully and lovingly toward each other and those who do not know/love Him because He first loved us. “. . . . and what does God require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with you God?” Micah 6:8

    • The Bible does say this, as well. Matthew 7: 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
      “Our” opinion on this subject doesn’t matter, only God’s. Jesus gave clear direction, when someone was caught in blatant sin; John 8: 7 He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. I know I can’t cast any stones.

  40. Patricia, I’ve been thinking of your words since I read them yesterday. They’ve flipped the paradigm for me (and oh — wasn’t Jesus always flipping the paradigm?) and I so deeply appreciate the kind and gentle way you’ve caused me to ponder. Thank you for your graciousness — I look up to you as a fellow writer and a follower of Jesus. Lots of love, my friend.

    • So true, Aliza. A theologian friend calls this “the upside-down kingdom of God” — that “what makes sense and looks right or feels good to us is often not the Lord’s way” (Natasha Sistrunk Robinson). So, turning the other cheek? Seriously? No, thank you, Lord. The paradigm seems to ask too much. Gratefully, however, the Lord let us circle back and ask if He really intends for us to love as He does. It’s rich food for thought. Thanks so much for wrestling with me over such a question. Much love to you!

  41. I hope it encourages you that when Houghton College announced a class entitled Race and American Christianity, over 1500 people signed up. Many of us have come to listen, learn, and examine our heats and actions. The readings for the first few weeks, about a history that is often neglected to be told, has seared my heart.

    • Kathy, what an amazing response — more than 1,500 people. That is astounding. I can imagine the course will be an eye-opener for many. I looked up the course and the content looks urgent and timely. Same with the assigned books. Another excellent text is “The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism” by Dr. Jerome Tisby. If you’re not familiar with it, please consider adding it to your reading list. Highly recommended. May God bless our study and learning in these urgent days.

      With His peace, Patricia

  42. The Bible is clear on this subject Matthew 7: 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    “Our” opinion on this subject doesn’t matter, only God’s. Jesus associated with thieves, liars, wanton women etc. His direction was clear; John 8: 7 He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. I know I can’t cast any stones.

    • Indeed, Marie. When it comes to casting stones, I need to go and sit down. May God bless us to listen to His forgiving heart instead. With kindest thanks, Patricia

  43. Patricia- What you say is bold and loving and so counter-culture. Kinda just like our friend Jesus! You have made me think hard, ponder what is really in my heart, and put judgements aside. I bet those who heard Jesus speak such “absurdities” as grace and forgiveness were taken aback, too. Your post reminds me that we can not give grace in the hardest places without God to open our hearts to it. It’s what he does, if we let Him! Thank you for speaking love through your post.

    • Martha, your thoughtful call to higher ground is a vital reminder for believers everywhere. May God receive us kindly on our redemptive journeys, granting us, as you say, the grace we’re invited to give to others. With warmest thanks and blessings, Patricia

  44. Wow! Reading these comments is a lot and not entirely what I expected from this community that I have always found to be a place of grace, understanding and respect. As I read, I thought about (in)courage’s tag line, which is something I have on my personal Facebook page – “Woman of Courage.” Patricia – I applaud you for having the courage to write this article. I suspect that you could not have imagined this response. I personally struggled a bit with the looting and how to think about it, sometimes feeling the need to justify it so that the all of the protests are not seen in a poor light. Your article is the most thoughtful response that I have read, and I have read a lot! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to pause, reflect and consider. You truly are a woman of courage!

    • Thanks so much, Elizabeth. And you’re right. I didn’t know what to expect with regard to this article. Like most of us, part of me assumed the community would think as I do: you know, MY way, which is with introspection. Or, looking at myself and my own heart as much I’m looking at others. Well, that wasn’t the case with this article — not with everyone anyway.

      Still, I’m glad I offered the article in order to pose the question — essentially, what is “theft”? And how do we, as people of faith, respond when we see it? Or as Victor Hugo suggested in his novel, is “theft” a loaf of bread? Or the 19 years that the government stole from Jean Valjean’s life for stealing it?

      I don’t have all the answers. I just asked the question of God. I’m grateful we had opportunity here at (in)courage to wrestle over it. Thanks so much for reading — thoughtfully, indeed — and commenting. I’m honored that you took time to ponder and reflect. With courage, indeed! With sincere thanks, Patricia

  45. Patricia,

    great article. Makes one think. How would Jesus respond in times like these. Sure stealing is wrong, but like you said what are the motives behind the stealing, & hatred. What if we showed everyone a little mercy & God’s grace. Told them about the one who can give them eternal life. Maybe just maybe we can turn them around. I’ve seen it done in prison before. Men in a close custody prison have come to know the risen Lord. A group of people did a “Kairos” walk-similar to Emmaus. Church men would go into prison & talk with the men (prisoners chosen for the walk). They had 3 days of talks, music, etc. Each team member got a personalized birthday cake. Every prisoner even those in solitary got 1 dozen cookies. Some of the men commented that they never had a birthday cake in their lives. They were amazed at the love shown them. You just never know what a little love & mercy can do. It just may change a life.

    Blessings 🙂

    • Wow, Beth. I’m so glad you shared this “kairos” example. Yes, a little mercy and God’s grace. In the story you shared, we see an amazing display of affirmation and support for men who desperately need it. Just imagine if God’s people were known for these things? Not AFTER someone is in prison, but also offered to people in their everyday lives and communities?

      Indeed, your story calls to us, as God’s family, to rethink and revisit how we show His love — so our love is more like Christ. That’s precisely how He offered love — to the least, the lost, the oppressed, the sinful, broken and undone. I love that scene in the gospels (Matthew and Mark) when the Lord looks out on a hungry, sick, noisy, confused crowd — with compassion.

      We could all show a little more of that. I know I certainly could. Thanks so much for your vital reminder!

  46. Thank-you for such a wonderful, life-giving perspective. We (especially as Christians) are quick to judge certain sins as “worse” in our hearts, usually without meaning to, but need to remember that all sins need the forgiveness of our loving and gracious Savior.

    • Indeed, K Ann. It’s so easy to look at the “speck of sawdust”– or even the plank — in the other person’s eye. Thanks so much for sharing that point. God’s blessings on you.