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Monday, September 14, 2009

For The Least of These..............


I gave twenty dollars to a stranger today. He was standing at a busy intersection, holding a cardboard sign that said "broke and hungry." This is a common practice in my city. Sometimes it is a young woman, sometimes a young man, or maybe both. The fellow today looked fairly down and out. He wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a skull motif, and had many tatoos. A heavy backpack completed his outfit.

These folks make me uncomfortable when I come across them. My first impulse is usually to open my wallet to give them some money. If my husband is with me, I don't do this. He is convinced that they are all drug addicts or alcoholics looking for a fix. Or people with jobs who are making extra money. So, knowing this, I hesitate. Lots of times I just drive by. But today, even though I am going through some financial hardship myself, I decided to stop and talk to the guy. I knew I had the twenty dollar bill in my wallet, and some small change. I thought that even though things were tight for myself, at least I had a home and food in the fridge.

I asked him what was going on with him. He told me a story about being injured on the job, coming from Kingston, waiting for Worker's Compensation, thinking about going out west to find a job. Of course, I had no way of knowing if he was lying to me or not. So I handed him the twenty dollar bill and said "God bless you." He thanked me, said "God bless you too." Then he walked away.

As I waited for the light to turn green, I watched him walk over to a bicycle, hop on it and ride away. A little dog ran alongside him. For all I know, he could have been heading for the Beer Store, which was just across the street. I didn't bother to "tail" him, however. If that is where he went, I didn't want to know.

I wonder if it is our pride that makes us hesitate to give money to these people. We don't want to be taken advantage of, or be "taken in" by some kind of scam. Or perhaps we don't want to risk being an "enabler" to someone's addiction. I only know that there must be some truly desperate, needy people out there, among the "fakers". I only know that I have been so incredibly blessed in my life, and that it might have been me, or my son, or my daughter, out there on some street corner, trying to survive in desperate circumstances.

Of course, I always have to ask myself, "what does God want me to do?" I think He would want me to share what I have been blessed with, and leave the results up to Him. What about you? Do you have any similar experiences to share? Any thoughts?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

It has been my experience that the "many" christians do not follow 1 John 3:17. I'll just leave it at that.

Ruth said...

HI Maureen, God cares, He truly cares and I love His heart in you.
It's His heart that matters. I remember one time i was in Montreal and I was walking down St. Catherine's street (the busiest street in Montreal) and there was a homeless man asleep/passed out on the street and the swarm of people were actually walking around this man as he lay sprawled out on the street. they took no notice to this man and how desperate he was laying there. I like everyone else pretended to barely notice but as I made my way , perhaps escape a better word here ? , I couldn't help but feel so completely disappointed in myself for blending in with the crowd and passing him by. I felt sick inside afterward. I will never forget this.

William said...

I think you did the right thing. I guess the best any of us can do is try to use discernment in each situation, one at a time.

I intervened for a woman with child who came to a church I was attending one evening asking for gas money. The assistant pastor was ill-disposed to help but I saw to it she got a fill-up. Months later the same woman approached me, not recognizing me, for money in a parking lot with the same pitch.

If I could do it over again, I'd probably still do the same thing.

Maureen said...

Anon: yes I have heard of many "studies" that have been done that have indicated that we are not the most generous group. Yet we should be, since we are of all people, most blessed.

Maureen said...

Ruth I have had similar experiences that I am not proud of. I think we are taught to "fear" people who are marginalized, or at least, to judge and not trust them. This is wrong. Whether or not it is "their own fault" that they are in their situation is not the point. They are fellow human beings, created in the image of God, just as we are. I love the saying "there but for the grace of God go I." It is so true.

Maureen said...

I'm with you William. I would likely do the same. I look at it this way: should I walk by the beggar on the street pretending I don't see them when I have just spent fifteen dollars on a lunch out? Doesn't make sense. Christ calls us to give SACRIFICIALLY, yet we hesitate to give even that which we will never miss.

Casey said...

good story. yes, it is a struggle, and maybe that is why we are to do it...i guess.

nAncY said...

the last comment was from me and not casey.

my daughter was signed in on google.

Ike said...

". . . one of the best things that could happen to many believers would be for them to be led to give away, all at one time, a substantial part of their savings. That is, they should give a substantial part of their capital. Why? Because there is something about giving away a sizable percentage of one's money -- and, of course, the amount would vary entirely from one individual to another -- that is spiritually invigorating. And there is seldom a case in which a large gift does not throw the Christian back on the Lord and increase the feeling that He is all wonderful and that He is more than able to care for the one who trusts Him. I have seen this happen in many instances. And I have never known a true Christian to be sorry for even the most sacrificial giving afterward."

James Montgomery Boice, Philippians: An Expositional Commentary, page 290.

P.S. I have given six figures to cure my wife from cancer. My reaction? I told Carol she better survive or I'll kill her! I'm not sure this is what Mr. Boice had in mind!!!!

Maureen said...

Hi Nancy. Good to see you. Say hi to Casey for me!

Maureen said...

Ike: I have friends who have given away money, cars and houses. It is amazing to see how the Lord has provided for them, when they have had to start over "from scratch."
I think He loves to prove His faithful providence in this way.

(I hope Carol appreciates your sense of humor :-)

Ike said...

Maureen...no problem with Carol. I have her laughing all the time. Did you know "Isaac" means laughter?

Maureen said...

Ike: she is indeed blessed.

Ike said...

Hey William...I haven't talked to you for awhile. I read your comment and you "seem" pretty easy! I have some "special" prayer clothes.. (napkins).....for a donation of $100.00.. I'll send you one. You will recieve ten fold back! By that...I mean you will recieve 10 more napkins:)

Girl in a Glass House said...

Maureen

I am much like you...torn between mercy and logic. I usually talk to them because everyone is a book, all full of stories. The money is an afterthought...but first I want to know what brought them there.

I think God wants us to hear their stories and to plant a seed. I once told someone on a street corner "If you could be doing anything now what would it be?" It was one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had. God seemed to beam down.

Your heart is beautiful...trust it!

Wendy Love said...

Maureen, I have come across those same people but admit that I agree with your husband on this one. And yet I must be feeling conviction because there are some regulars in our city now and I feel guilty doing nothing and then when they have a dog I wonder about that and on and on it goes, my critical thinking. I have no idea what the RIGHT thing to do is, except to say that each of us must follow our own nudges. I can't help but think of that scripture "when you did it for the least of these you did it for me" and then I am REALLY convicted! Thanks for making me think....

sarah said...

HI. this is an interesting post. I was a drug addict and lived on the street. God did some amazing stuff in my life and changed me. I think you have a great heart. Sarah

Daveda said...

I have at times, given money and or purchased items for strangers. I just wait for the "nudge" I wait for the Holy Spirit to place it in my heart. I don't think about giving money and such to every one, so when I get the "nudge" to do so, I do it.

What a great heart you have. I agree what others do with a blessing is between them and God. Even if that man did go to the liquor store, that does not mean that God cannot use your act of kindness to touch and change his heart. Sometimes, I think we look to much on the outside stuff :)

Maureen said...

I really appreciate all the comments here. Guess we are all the same. I think the idea that we follow those "nudges" from the Holy Spirit is best. Every situation is different. I agree also with Girl IAGH about having conversations. God can use those so much. And yes, we often look at the outside and judge people by their appearance. Oh how we need the Holy Spirit!