Consider this scenario:
- A man you have never met walks up to you and asks for $100,000. You say no because you don’t know him, and you don’t know his intentions with the money. Or, you ignore him and pretend he isn’t talking to you because he looks kind of ragged, smells funny and is probably drunk.
- Your best friend who owns a 3 year old SUV hasn’t been too impressed with the upkeep and complains to you about another visit to the shop. You surprise your best friend with a brand new Range Rover.
Upon first read, these scenarios both seem completely understandable.
Unfortunately, you and I are the haggard man from scenario #1. We look tired, strung out, drunk, wasted, dirty, sweaty, smelly and nasty as we ask for way more than we appear to deserve. That’s what sin does to us: makes us plain disgusting. Except before we knew we needed help, help was given. We were never told No. Not only do we look terrible, but the person who helped us out knew we would ignore his help and squander his gifts on selfish desires. Actually, the guy who helped us out knew we were going to suck it up big time, but he still helped us out anyway. Someone clean, beautiful and RICH took a chance on us and gave us a gift.
If we are to follow His example, we must give to those who appear to us as we appear to Him.
We were given riches. (Because we live in America. So no matter what status we think we are, we are rich. Sometimes Americans remind me of skinny girls who think they are fat, not able to see the truth of their own situation.) We were given salvation, life, eternal life and unending love. All of that in addition to riches. If God had just decided to spread the gifts among his best friends, you and I would be SOL – sorryouttaluck.
It’s not our duty to judge. Judging is God’s job (see Matthew 7:1 below). It’s our duty to help people learn about Jesus and come to know Him. Jesus ate with the sinners and the poor. Jesus spoke with prostitutes. (And thank goodness He did. You and I both had no chance if he stuck to only perfect people.) So if Jesus — our only example of a perfect life free of sin, our only example of God on earth, our only example of pure love — if Jesus ate with sinners and prostitutes and loved them, what should we do? We should probably do that too. (Read my thoughts on Paul’s 1 Corinthians 5 scripture that many have interpreted as “Do not eat with sinners” here.)
What Jesus shows us by eating with sinners is that Jesus wouldn’t only toss some money in the direction of a homeless person. Jesus would take that person out to dinner and eat with him. Sharing a meal with someone can have a far greater impact than just tossing them a twenty. The best example I have ever read of the positive effects of sharing one meal together can be found in this incredible story when a mugging victim took his mugger out to dinner.
If you have a bunch of money (if you live in a America, you have a bunch of money), what is stopping you from tossing some money to the homeless person on the street corner? You were about to toss that money in the direction of McDonald’s or Subway or Starbucks anyway. Being uncertain of what a homeless person will do with the money you give them is not a valid excuse to avoid helping someone in need.
In Luke 17 Jesus healed TEN lepers. Only one came back to thank Him. The other nine were healed also, but the Bible doesn’t tell us what the nine did once they were healed. We just know they didn’t come back to thank Him. Jesus did not tell the lepers I refuse to heal anyone until I know exactly what will be done with my blessings. Jesus just healed them all, regardless of their intentions, regardless of their thankfulness.
I guess that’s how my attitude should be toward helping those in need. I can’t run a background check on every person who comes before me with a need. We’re fortunate Jesus didn’t care about the background checks He ran, or else once again you and I would be SOL.
The other day I saw a man walking down a busy six lane road carrying shopping bags. There were no houses or apartments nearby and it was beginning to rain. I had a serious internal battle raging when I looked at that man. Cars flew by him as he walked up the shoulder of the road right next to where I was stopped waiting to merge. I sat there, a single woman in an empty five seat car, watching a large man walk ten feet from me with hands full in the rain.
My internal safety sensors RAGED. My Christian conscience argued back. My brain was paralyzed for so long that the driver behind me pulled around my car and gave me a dirty look as he merged onto the busy road. My insides were TORN. I couldn’t stop thinking:
- Since when did I become so high and mighty that I forgot I AM THE SINNER, I AM THE PROSTITUTE? It’s not my job to judge, because I’m a prostitute myself. I’m a prostitute to sin. I know the cost, yet I keep selling myself to sin over and over again. I must give to those who appear to me as I appear to Him — and to be honest, I look pretty terrible. If I look so terrible, who am I to judge the man walking on the side of the road?
And then it happened. Remember the challenge I referenced in my Holy Spirit post? Well this was my first experience (that I’m aware of) with letting the Holy Spirit take full control. I said a quick prayer for protection and guidance. I was consciously aware that I would be safe and I was acting through the Holy Spirit. I rolled down my window and shouted out to the man, asking if he would like a ride to his destination, or if he would like my umbrella. He laughed and smiled so lovingly, I knew I had done the right thing. He said, “Bless you child. Bless you. I will be fine. I enjoy the walk. Thank you for the offer.” I probed further just to let him know I was seriously offering. He politely refused and continued to walk in the drizzling rain, grocery bags in hand.
Although the man refused a ride, I was still blessed by the interaction. How many opportunities have my earthly sensors (aka – the devil.) hidden from my sight in the past?
Everything we have has been given to us. It is not our responsibility to feel high and mighty and above those in need. It has never been and never will be our responsibility to judge others.
“1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Jesus said the measure I use to judge others will be used to judge me. I’m pretty sure I judge a lot more harshly than I give myself credit for and that scares me.
God and Jesus knew we would waste the majority of the blessings given to us, but their opinions of our potential actions did not stop them from blessing us.
Why are we so hesitant to give to others when we aren’t completely sure of their intentions? I’m not saying give money to the charity that you know embezzles. And if you are going to give an exceptionally large donation somewhere, please know what your money is supporting. But when you pass the homeless man on the side of the road, remember we’re all sinners. We’re all in the same boat. In God’s eyes there’s nothing that makes my needs any greater than the person who is begging on the side of the road. God wouldn’t pass him by if the man was clearly asking God for help, so why would I feel so grandiose that I pretend not to see him…just because I think he might go buy some more booze, or just because it’s uncomfortable for me to acknowledge his reality?
How can I accuse him of potentially wasting a gift he hasn’t even received, when I clearly waste my gifts everyday?