Last month there was a man standing at my town’s local Wal-Mart holding a sign that said he was the father of a homeless family of five and he needed money for food, diapers, or anything else. I saw him standing there for 3 days, and (as I usually do) I brushed him off each time- he’s lying for some extra money. He’s looking for drug money. He’s cheating his way into an extra dollar. But on the third day, as I drove away I thought, but what if he’s not? I thought about what kind of person I am to deny help to someone who may actually need it. I had no choice but to turn around.
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27
I actually thought about this verse. Sure, he may have been lying. There’s a possibility that I gave money to a man who lied to get it. But there’s also a very real possibility I gave an honest man some much needed help. And that possibility makes the risk worth it.
We get so comfortable in our warm beds, Netflix, abundance of clothes, and other luxury items and we forget about those that have less than us. Even worse- we look down on them. We somehow have the arrogance to think that because we have a little more money in the bank, our existence is more valuable than theirs. We accuse them of being lazy. In the back of our minds, though we would never say it out loud- they’re beneath us. Even worse than that- when we deny someone help, we imply that they are not worthy of our assistance.
We don’t want to stop for the homeless man because he could be a liar.
We don’t want to stop and give to the little bell ringers you see pop up around Christmas time because we have more important things to spend our money on.
We don’t have time to help, because our time is too valuable to pause and take the few moments it takes to do so.
In my recent study of Esther (which you can read here), I found that Esther didn’t look down on others once she was raised to a position of power. She used her authority to bring help to those lower than her. Esther used her blessings to be a blessing to someone else.
I’m starting to realize just how rare it is for me to actually do something meaningful for someone who has less than me. How often am I willing to give up my blessings in order to bring help to others? I feel really convicted. I would like to make the excuse that I have a lack of opportunity, but that would be a lie. There’s opportunity everywhere. There are people in need everywhere. I’m just too concerned with my own life, or too blinded by my own comfort to see the need in others.
We’re told not to deny help to others when it is within our power to help them. Having a loving heart means being attentive to the needs of those around you. Truly living by the Word of God means having compassion on the ones who have less than you. God calls us to be compassionate. He calls us to be loving. How can we say we are living that out if we don’t immediately run to fill a need where we see one? That’s what love is- giving up what you have for the sake of someone else.
Who knows- the one act of compassion you show to someone in need may have been the first glimpse of the love of God they’ve ever seen.
I pray that God helps me be a better help to others. I pray that he opens my eyes to others that are in need and gives me the compassion and ability to fulfill their needs.