Yesterday I was driving around town running work errands (returning $2000 worth of flash gear that didn’t work, buying another thousand worth of lighting gear to test yada yada). It was at a stop light downtown when a homeless man with a backpack came by each stopped car with a cardboard sign and a cup out. I was then that I remembered a story my wife recently told me …
She was driving our boys and their friends home from volleyball club, when she found herself at a red light in a similar situation: a homeless man was walking by each car with a cup out . Before she knew it, one of the boys quickly reached inside his backpack and grabbed a granola bar, rolled down the window, and handed it to the man.
When I heard this story I smiled … then felt guilty for all the times I’ve lacked compassion enough to look these needy people in the eye past a cursory "no thank you" glance. I’ve rationalized not giving money to those asking, knowing it can cause more harm than good. Self-destructive habits like smoking, drugs or worse are never something I want to encourage let alone fund. And though I’ve volunteered my time handing out sandwiches downtown and served the homeless in ministries like Inn from the Cold, that should be even less of an excuse for my inexcusability of ignoring a fellow human – and child of God – in need.
"“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
Matthew 25:35-40 NLT
It was definitely a God-thing that my bag was in the passenger seat (I usually put it in the trunk). I quickly rummaged through it and handed over my lunch: just my favourite protein bar, but I’m pretty sure he needed it more than me.
Thanks Matthew, for being an example to me.
Prayer: God, help me to have the faith, love and boldness of action of a 12 year old. Help me to compassionately give of what I have, with those you send my way each day. Amen.