Matthew 25:42,45 – For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink. Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (KJV)
Homelessness and people on the streets asking for money, food, and/or work are not new, but they are increasing in most communities, and perhaps nowhere more than on the Lower Mainland or on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, probably because of our warmer climate.
Some pull at our heartstrings, while others repel us, and the question as to whether or not to give them money is always debatable. We are told repeatedly by those who are closest to dealing with them not to give them money because invariably it goes to drugs, yet we wrestle within ourselves if we pass them by.
It's not my practice to give to everyone. I have my favourites, some whom I know, or at least believe, use the money for food, towards their rent, or some other expense. There are those to whom I will not give money, but for whom I will gladly buy something to eat, usually a hamburger or sandwich, or sometimes, something seemingly as simple as a pair of gloves. There are those with whom I am not familiar, but give, and there are those to whom I say "Sorry" and pass by.
On three recent occasions, however, I've been given pause to wonder if I'm being tested.
The bank with which I deal has a post box outside, to the left of the door as I enter from the right. Each time on these occasions, a week or more apart, I've noticed a pair of legs sticking out from the other side of the post box, signifying that a person is sitting there, likely hoping for some change. Were I to be entering from the left, I'd encounter him full on, and we would see each other face to face. Entering on the right, avoiding eye contact is easy, as it would be to not drop off some change.
And therein lies the opportunity to give or not. I wouldn't be seen by the person, wouldn't be making eye contact, and could convince myself that it's okay just to go on my way. Admittedly, upon entering the bank, I have thought about doing just that. But once in there, I remind myself what a blessing it is to have access to a bank account and some money, and not to be sitting on a cold sidewalk hoping to receive something.
On each of the three times prior to leaving the bank, I've kept out some change to give to the gentleman — and he is gone — nowhere in sight.
And so, I have wondered, "Was that You, Lord?"
Winter is here, and the weather is cold, damp, raining, or snowing. Christmas will soon be here. People will be positioning themselves in hopes of a handout at more and more places along the walkways. As we approach, if we're wrestling whether to give or not, let's ask ourselves, "Is that You, Lord?"
Prayer: As we pursue our path of purchases and preparations to celebrate Your birthday, Lord, no matter what our position in life, may we think of those who have less than do we, and may we accept less for ourselves, that we may give more to others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" (Lyrics)