20 October 2018
The Least of These ~ But what about…Part 1
Greetings Dear Reader,
I have a friend who has been my friend since I first found Christ and actually before I made the choice to follow Jesus. His family was good to me when I was determined to destroy myself with drugs, depression, and anger. He asked the following about yesterday’s post.
“So well said! So, we pull up to an intersection where an individual displays a sign of homelessness or hunger - we face a couple of decisions! 1- is this a real needy individual? 2- should I play a part in helping. I can speak for myself in that I don't always know what to do ....” (Glenn)
I am going to take a couple of days to respond to this because I wish to be sure that I am honest, introspective, and do not just give a pat answer. I also think it will take a couple of days to ensure that I cover the entire answer. This may hurt if you have tender toes or like easy answers.
First, I will begin by addressing the exact situation that Glenn mentions. Having lived in a town where a group of people formed a cooperative to stand on the corner and seek donations as a full time avocation, I understand his question. There reasoning was that “working” the corners paid more than working a McDonald's. In the gentlest way possible I want to point out that Jesus addressed this.
Mat 5:42 “Give to everyone who asks you for something. Don't turn anyone away who wants to borrow something from you.” I have read this in many translations. In none of them are there qualifiers. There is nothing that says “unless you think they are an addict or a drunk.” No matter how we address it this is a command from Jesus.
Does that mean that the guy or gal at the stoplight is asking me directly? I do not know. I do know that what is done with my gift of kindness is between the receiver and God. If I give a gift it is no longer mine to manage. I never wore the bright brown mustard yellow wool sweater that my aunt gave me. It was a gift for me to use as I saw fit (which it did not). Two years after I received it a friend commented on how much she liked it when she saw it in my coat closet. I gave it to her. My aunt’s gift to me was never used by me but it was used by someone who loved it.
I am not saying that we are to be irresponsible with what God provides but we see over and over that the Father wants us to be generous, liberal givers. Consider these words from Solomon. “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9) I would rather spend my time having an eye toward the needs of others than worrying about their motive and machinations. Solomon also says this. “The one who is gracious to the poor lends to the LORD, and the LORD will repay him for his good deed.” (Proverbs 19:17) There are very few places where we can assuredly say that the Creator of all things is indebted to us. I want to embrace the idea of the Father owing me something with humility and grace.
But wait! There is more. You see, we are not simply supposed to give to the poor and needy. Paul instructs Timothy carefully. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18
Not only are we supposed to be ready and willing to give liberally to the poor. We are required to be willing to communicate with them. If we look at the meaning of the word translated “communicate” we find this:
1) social, sociable, ready and apt to form and maintain communion and fellowship
2) inclined to make others sharers in one’s possessions, inclined to impart, free in giving, liberal (Thayer)
We are required to be sociable and make those in need part of our community. We are to commune with them. We cannot do this if we drop the thirteen cents from our six-dollar Grande cup into the homeless guy’s empty one without making eye contact. We ignore opportunities to be generous and establish community every day. We trade generosity and community for hot milkshakes.
So how do we apply this? For me I must realize that even though I am poor right now I am not excused from giving where I can and being good to those in need. (I mean this. As blessed as I am I have no income and cannot seem to get a job. If you feel generous and want to help you can through my Patreon page. ) I do not know what it means to you and I will get on to more of this tomorrow. What it means to me and for me is that I must look for opportunities to be generous and kind to the poor.
We have so much more than we realize. It is in giving that we find our true richness. It is in seeking community that we find our desire to give. When we see those begging for food perhaps we should picture Jesus with the basin and the towel washing the feet of the man who would deny him. Perhaps that image will become more important to us than the motivations of the guy on the corner with the cardboard sign. No matter what we imagine, it always becomes a matter of our heart to give over another human’s failings. It is our love for the Father and our neighbor that must move us.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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