Many years ago, when I was a teenager, my mom and I were heading to shop at Walmart in my home town in Illinois. On the corner, before turning into the parking lot, there was a man standing there holding a sign that read, “Hungry, will work for food.” It was dark and cold and snowing like crazy. As my mom and I shopped, I thought about that man and asked my mom if it would be OK to pick up some food items to give to him. She agreed that would be a good idea and so we shopped the snack isle and picked up several things for the man outside. This was before Walmart was “Super” and all they had was peanut butter crackers, nuts, juice and stuff like that. We filled two sacks with snacks and drinks and before we left the parking lot that night, I hopped out of the car to hand the man the two bags. Much to my surprise, the man did not want the food! He said to me, “I don’t eat that kind of junk.” WHAT?!? I just stood there for a second, which seemed like eternity. I didn’t know what to do. Do I take the bags and get back into the car or do I leave them and run? I honestly can’t even remember what I did with those bags now. But what I do remember is how he treated my gift to him and that has kept me from ever dipping into my pocket to give to another beggar again. All these years later, I have been bitter toward beggars. I try not to be hateful and I DO feel very bad for them, but I often find myself thinking negative things toward them… I know, it’s not fair of me.
I have noticed lately around here that I can almost NEVER go to a gas station without getting approached by someone needing gas, money or food. I have turned several away, even if I do occasionally have the cash in my wallet. Sometimes I even ignore them all together without ever acknowledging they are trying to talk to me. A few weeks ago something miraculous happened to me. This time I acted no different… a man started coming for me as I was waiting for my gas to finish pumping. When I noticed him approaching me, I quickly hopped into the drivers seat of my van and mouthed, “I’m sorry.” He was a man about my age and it did scare me a little being by myself with the boys. I continued to watch him as he approached the next vehicle where a lady and, what looked like, her teenage son were pumping gas. What happened next would change my life forever… I sat there thinking I was going to see her reject him as well and was starting to feel bad for the guy when suddenly she pulls some money out of her pocket, counts out 5 bills (i don’t know how much it was) and gives it to the man. I was astonished! What did she do? Doesn’t she know that he will probably go buy beer with that? Or worse, drugs? But then, I couldn’t get it out of my head… how thankful he was, and how simple of an act it seemed but what an impact it made. Then I started to think about what Jesus would have us do and what it says in the bible.
For the next few weeks that incident played over and over in my mind. It wasn’t until yesterday, while getting gas with my oldest son, that I was approached again. This time it was an older, black lady. She was dressed decent but you could tell something was wrong upstairs. She was mumbling and talking to herself. She didn’t seem drunk or high, just off. Before she approached the van, I watched her for a minute as she approached others. One guy totally ignoring her, another telling her no, a lady in a car driving off really fast before she could get to her window. I knew we were next. As she walked up to Steven’s passenger side window, I said “Roll your window down, son.” He said, “No, mom. Just go.” As I grabbed my wallet I said, “No, roll it down.” Before the lady could say I word, I handed Steven 3 dollar bills to give to her and she accepted it. She just stood there looking at the money and then looking at me and then looking at the money again. I was sitting there with the biggest smile my face could handle. She said as clear as day, “Thank you, ma’am.” And I said, “May God bless you. Have a wonderful day.” MAN!!!! That felt WONDERFUL!!! My heart was SO full! That was the most amazing experience I had had in a while. Every negative thought I had toward people begging was gone! I didn’t care what she did with the money… the “whole” $3.00. It didn’t matter. It was the principle, the point of it all, the Jesus in ME!!!!
Now, don’t get me wrong. We must use good judgement. I recommend asking the Lord to show you when to give and when not to. I also don’t think it’s wise to put yourself in crazy situations in order to hand someone a few bucks. But I do, now, believe that when the moment arises where you can love another human, you have some cash in your wallet and you feel God’s peace to give… by all means, DO SO!
Let’s take a look at what God has to say about giving…
Deuteronomy 15:10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
LORD your God which He has given you.
Proverbs 21:26 …the righteous gives and does not hold back.
Proverbs 22:9 He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.
Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.
Luke 6:30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.
James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
God is faithful to His word and keeps His promises. Not only am I blessed with an amazing JOY by giving to the poor but He says He will bless me monetarily as well. AWESOME! I finally get what it’s all about, and it’s not just about my church or my friends or my family. It’s about ALL of His children. Even the beggars. Thank you, Lord.
Have a great day today, friends. Bless someone today.
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