Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow"1 (Lyrics)
Proverbs 21:13 – If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered. (NIV)
Proverbs 22:9 – A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor. (NIV)
In the parking lot of the grocery store where I sometimes shop, there is a man who stands with a smile on his face and hope in his eyes. He is never demanding or rude, but if the customers allow him, he takes their shopping carts away and keeps the twenty-five-cent deposit coins from the carts for himself. I see him happily running back and forth in the parking lot whenever he is given the opportunity to earn a few cents, whatever the weather — sunny, rainy, or cold. I give him my cart and a few extra coins.
Finally, I realized that I didn't know him by name, nor did I know anything about him, and I resolved to find out.
I spotted the same man one day while I was sitting on a city bus on my way home. I smiled when I looked up and saw him waiting for a green light at the crosswalk. Suddenly, he looked in my direction and responded enthusiastically with a big grin, waving his hands at me. We recognized each other!
A couple of months went by without seeing him, but as my husband and I were driving home, I saw him walking on the sidewalk toward the grocery store. I shouted to my husband, "There he is — stop the car!" I jumped out and started walking fast in his direction. He was just straightening up after picking a toy off the ground and handing it to a little child in a stroller. When he saw me, he smiled broadly, and I said to him, "Where were you? I have been watching and waiting to see you for weeks." He told me that his name is Emmanuel. I also learned that he receives social assistance and lives in a group home. Since I didn't know when I would see him again, I was more generous to him that day. As I made my way back to find my husband, I was a lot happier because I had seen Emmanuel.
Proverbs 14:31 – He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (NIV)
Proverbs 19:17 – He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done. (NIV)
Would you be taken aback if you were recognized by a vagrant? Are you willing to extend a helping hand to those in need?
Prayer: Dear Father God, we thank You for the opportunity to share what we have with our brothers and sisters who are in need. Help us to see the genuine needs of the poor in our community and to recognize that You made us all, whether we are rich or poor. Amen.