If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord — and he will repay you! (Proverbs 19:17)
Relate: Do you ever use Urban Dictionary? Have you ever even heard of it? Basically, it’s a more laid back wikipedia. It is a type dictionary where people volunteer definitions for a word or phrase and then others vote those definitions up or down. Sometimes they are whimsical, sometimes they are vulgar, and sometimes they are spot on. I was wasting time just crawling through definitions the other day. When I was reading today’s proverb, one of those definitions I read came back to me. It’s a bit long to copy and paste but unless you’re an Indian’s fan you can read it here.
Yogurt. Not the Turkish kind I get now (which is far better) but the old American stuff with a Danon or Yoplait label on it. Yogurt. That is what I was craving. I was walking to the office one evening when I remembered that I had some granola on my desk and I should stop at Price Chopper on the way and grab some plain vanilla yogurt. I was just coming off a stomach bug and I figured the yogurt and granola would be just enough to take the edge off my hunger without causing me any trouble. The thing is, when I walked in, I had to go past their “restaurant” area to get to the dairy. The fried chicken they had cooking just smelled sooooo good. I hadn’t eaten anything real in days and I just had to grab some. So I did. About a half block later, I had eaten one chicken strip, there were five more in the container and already my stomach was yelling at me, “Why didn’t you just get the yogurt?!”
That was when a gentleman walking the other way saw me and asked if I could spare a dollar. He had tattered gloves, a dirty and worn coat, and you could smell the alcohol on his breath from a mile away. I told him I didn’t have a dollar but he could have the rest of my chicken. He almost was embarrassed. “No, I couldn’t do that. That’s your dinner. I just wanted to get a burger” (A McD’s with its dollar menu was about a half block away.) I responded, “No really. Its yours. One piece was enough for me.” When I finally persuaded him to take it, I could see the tears forming in his eyes. A handshake turned into a hug and he was getting choked up just trying to say thank you. As I was walking away I remember thinking that buying that chicken was money in the bank.
React: Maybe you are more generous in thought and attitude than I am, but sometimes I use a person’s worthiness as a factor on whether or not I will give. Strike that, I use it as a way to assuage my guilty conscience for not giving. “I shouldn’t give to him because he is just going to spend it on cigarettes or alcohol.” So what? My obedience to God makes me responsible to give. What they do with the gift is between them and God. Granted, I would rather give food or pay their fare and ride the bus with them rather than giving them bus fare, but that isn’t always tenable. The how and why somebody became poor might be a factor in how I help but should never be a factor in if I help.
About a year back, a local Istanbul newspaper did an “expose” on how some of Istanbul’s homeless population have taken to pretending they are Syrian refugees since it seems a more lucrative form of begging. So what? Does that mean they are any less in need of my love, empathy, and compassion? What and how can I effectively help and show the love of Christ to them? Pretty much anything we do to help the poorest and most destitute is time and money that will forever be lost here on earth. There will almost never be any return on the dollar we give. But everything we do in this regard is money in the bank. Seriously. You can bank on it.
God, I long to be more like You. Give me Your heart so that I can learn to love the ones You love. Give me Your ears so that I can hear the cries of those around me. Give my Your eyes so that I can see the ways You have gifted me to meet their needs. Give me Your voice so that I can share Your love with all who would hear. Give me Your hands that are ever reaching out to hold the hurting. Give me Your strength that I can go and do and give far more than I dreamed possible. Give me Your persistence so that I can continue pour myself out until that day You call me home.