The Shirt Off His Back

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.1 John 3:16

Today, someone offered me the shirt off his back. I didn’t ask for it; I just complimented him on it.

I ran into him in the lobby of the Rushmore Holiday Inn in Rapid City, South Dakota. We had already met and exchanged a few words. He told me that after hearing me speak, he felt we had much in common. I don’t know about that, but I know I liked him right away. I could tell he was the kind of person to tell you exactly what he thinks.

I had been a little confused about him at first. He had a kind of street smartness about him that intimidated me. But then we exchange a few words and I found out my prejudgments were totally off base.

What a nice shirt,” I said as he came in the door.

Thank you,” he said. “I’d like you to have it.”

Absolutely not,” I protested. “You don’t need to do that.”

My protest was to no avail. He showed up later at my hotel room door and handed me the shirt. There was no way I could turn him down. He gave it to me with his card and said he wanted to be able to write me. Well of course, I said, because that’s always okay with me.

Something about this has captured me. What kind of guy gives you the shirt off his own back? Someone who is more than just words. Someone who is action-oriented. Someone who wants to make a statement. Someone who seizes the moment. I doubt that giving me his shirt had even crossed his mind until I complimented him on it.

I can’t help but think about the early Christians who shared everything in common. I feel just a little like those guys — at least on the receiving side. I know they’d give you the shirt off their own backs if they could.

I may be making too much of this, but I can’t wait to find out what’s behind it. Let me know what you think.

by John Fischer

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