A man stood in line, waiting to check out at Target. As he loaded his items onto the counter, the cute little girl and her dad in front of him caught his eye.
Reaching out to touch a candy bar, the 6 or 7 year old turned around as if to ask “Can I have this?”
Her father scowled and snapped, “Put that down! We are not buying that!” Then, unexpectedly, he reached out and hit her hand. Hard.
The child, now embarrassed, her hand stinging, started to tremble. Tears ran down her cheeks and the quiet sobs began as the man watched.
Leaning down into her face, the dad scolded, “You know you aren’t supposed to cry when you don’t get things you want.” And incredulously he reached out and slapped her cheek, the sound echoing through the stunned and sober crowd of customers and clerks.
The man stepped forward, leaned down, and spoke to the father. “I know you think it makes you look like a real man to slap your daughter, he said, “but if you strike her again, I will show you what a real man looks like.”
Horrified, the dad grabbed the child and, leaving his items, headed toward the exit. Turning back, he belligerently mumbled at his accuser.
The man stood, looked up and hearing the cursing, hollered at the top of his lungs, “Real men don’t hit their children.” And in one of those Hallmark moments, the circle of onlookers began to cheer and applaud.
The man paid for his items and unbuckled his own small, precious daughter, his greatest fan, from her seat in the cart.
Maybe that dad will think long and hard about his behavior. Maybe not. But I believe that some day that sweet little girl will remember that she has value, that one stranger was willing to stand up for her against abuse. And maybe, just maybe, she will remember what a real man looks like.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ~ Matthew 25