In His Place.

Ezekiel 3:15

God has called Ezekiel to be a prophet.
He is to hear God's message and then give them a warning from God.
His congregation is made up of a company of exiles.
They are people who have suffered.
Many have lost their loved ones.
Some have lost their God.
Ezekiel was sent, therefore, to a congregation acquainted with grief, to people whose eyes
were blinded with tears.

For this difficult task, the prophet needed special preparation.
God was ready to educate him.
He went and sat down among the people to whom he was to minister.
" I sat where they sat."

We need that kind of preparation.
We need to do that in all of our relationships.
It would be good for us to see how others view their lives and their circumstances.
We might see things differently, if we looked at life from a hospital bed.
How does life look to that person whose every breath is a breath of pain?
We, who are strong and well, need to put ourselves in the place of the sick.

We, who are older, need to sit in the seat of the youth.
It is not easy to be young.
What is it like to be young?

Then youth, if possible, needs to sit in the seat of the aged.
What is it like to be aged?
How does life look to one who has recently wept tears over the loss of a loved one at a grave?
Many of us do not know the answers to these questions.
If we did, we might be more kind to people who are hurting all around us.

We need to sit in the seat of the unprivileged.
The intellectual needs to look with kindness at the un-educated.
Many sit comfortably among the cultured and refined.
How comfortable will you be when you sit among the crude and the un-schooled?

In our families, we should learn to put ourselves in each other's place.
What a blessing this would bring into our homes. If husband and wife could only put themselves each in the others place, many heartaches could be avoided.
Much of what ends up as tragedy would be changed into days of happiness and peace.

Then we who are parents, need to sit where our children sit.
We cannot be as patient and understanding as we should be without this.
As fathers we need to remember that we were not always perfect.
Mothers also need to remember how they were as little girls and how they were as teenagers.

Then, what is even more difficult, sons and daughters need to put themselves in the place of father and mother.
It is not easy to do this.
But many broken hearts and bitter tears would be saved if we only would.
If children could only realize how they hold the happiness of their father and mother in their hands,
maybe they would learn to put themselves in their parents' place.
Children, also, have a responsibility to be makers of peace and joy in their homes.

Putting ourselves in another's place will make a tremendous difference in our world.
Sympathy for others would lead us to greater knowledge.
That knowledge would lead us to a larger love.
To know people is to love them.
It is possible that some of you are saying -- that it is because you know John Smith so very well
-- that you do not even like him.
I truly believe the reason is because we do not know people very well.
We assume too much about others.
We must not do this.

The outcome of a larger love will develop into a larger helpfulness. Now the big question: how was Ezekiel able to sit in the other man's seat?

That is never easy to do.
It is not easy for any of us. That same help is available for you and me.
Jesus is always sitting where we sit.
He will do for us what He has always been doing for His children.
That is what He was doing when, though rich, for our sake became poor.

That was the vision that Isaiah had of Him: "He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray.
We have turned everyone to his own way. But the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all
."

If He laid down His life for us, we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White