I’ve been confused about how to deal with the homeless person with the sign on the corner for a long time.
Last night, as I sat in my car getting organized at Ecclesia, a beggar knocked in my window. He caught me off-guard, made me feel invaded…
I had to decide (again) how to respond
I have had many conflicting inputs:
- In my childhood memories, there are many times my mom stopped to help someone along the side of the road, giving them a ride home or to a shelter.
- While dating, Joel & I went with The Grove Church to deliver food under Pierce Elevated in downtown Houston. We made a few friends & started taking food & stuff to them as a way to flee pre-marriage temptation. Each person had a story…and factor that lead them to life on the street.
- When working for a large local church about 8 years ago, I was riding with several pastors. One explained to me that the corner beggars commonly make $60,000/year tax free… And who knows what they do with it.
- I spent 2001 & 2005 working at the Star of Hope Women & Family Homeless Shelter. Lots of people were trapped in the poverty cycle & disappointed me.
Last year, I started reading Luke aloud to my kids.
I got to Luke 6:30… and the answer seemed pretty straight forward:
Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
But how do we know if they will use it wisely? Or if they are making more then me by this profession?
The same questions could be asked when we ask for help…Was I a perfect steward of every dollar given to me? Did I buy a latte, get my nails done, pay for a movie, etc.?
What matters on my end is how the Lord will view my choice to help…
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
So last night, I made the wrong choice first: judgement. I was offended (by choice) that he knocked on my window. He should have known not to invade my space. So I spoke curtly, telling him I might help when I got out to enter the building.
And my heart ached.
I wouldn’t have spoken to Jesus that way. I wouldn’t have spoken to any of you that way.
Fortunately, I was still in that place. I could look in my rearview mirror, image he was Jesus, or even imagine I was the beggar.
Then I acted.