Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person. Don't tell your neighbor "Maybe some other time" or "Try me tomorrow" when the money's right there in your pocket (Proverbs 3:27-28, MSG)
Oh, boy, at times God just wants to get my attention about a subject. Today is one of those days. Notice that it's one of those always/never extremes that frighten me away?
Only last night I was confessing my prejudice against panhandlers to a friend. We were discussing prejudice. You may have noticed that I posted two versions of yesterday's nibble. The reason is that the first version included a poorly stated racial slur against Jews. That was never my intent, but when she probed, I realized I would make the same statement about a different racial group. I was shocked and convicted. (And at the moment, since I can't seem to delete the post, I reposted it with a correction.)
As we examined each other's problem prejudices, I admitted my feelings about panhandlers. She at least tries to set aside her prejudice. I hold tight to mine (and my purse strings). As a single mother, I resented young adults who could be working approaching me for money. I have offered food to those who are hungry (to have it rejected) and bus tokens to those needing a ride (also refused). Twice I took the plunge of sharing a meal with a panhandler. One of them was a sweet man whom I believe passed away soon after. (I no longer saw him at his usual haunts.) The second time, my guest ordered the most expensive item on the menu and wanted to bring food "home" to her cat and showed me the DVDs she had purchased with the money received that morning.
So today God sends me THIS verse reminding me that God plans to use me to help others. Yes, the verse says someone "deserves" help. But in case I take comfort in that loophole, it continues on to say "help your neighbor." Don't refuse to help him when you have the means to do so.
And we know Jesus's answer to "who is my neighbor?" I doubt that any religious Jew of Jesus time would have thought any Samaritan deserved help.
I hide behind the opinion that I'm not helping someone if I enable his homelessness/drug addiction/whatever by giving him money.
The problem is, I don't know what made the person destitute. Even if only one in a hundred is honestly homeless due to circumstances beyond his control, doesn't God encourage to help that one? To rejoice when that one returns to the fold of a productive society member and committed follower of Jesus?
I don't face destitute people here in the home. An occasional homeless person comes here to be restored to health. One such man left, drugs and cancer free, and reconnected with his father. His was a success story, but the only part I had in that restitution was friendship. Maybe that mattered more than anyone else.
Perhaps instead someone here wants my ear to listen and take their sad story seriously. Not to agree, necessarily, but to speak grace into a hurting heart.
Today's favorite verse: a promise to hold on to as I age: The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. (Proverbs 4:18, MSG)