Yesterday while out running errands with the kids, we passed a man on a street corner holding a sign that said, “I would rather beg than steal”.
My first thought was about all the panhandlers who stand in that exact spot, holding signs that say all sorts of things, begging for money. I have even seen two people fighting over the spot before, which seemed strange to me considering there are lots of busy street corners around town. Unfortunately, this form of collecting cash has become so common and abused in our city, that they tend to get ignored or overlooked. There have been newspaper articles about it and about how many of these people are just scamming you, there was even a reporter who went undercover and lived among them for several months to investigate. His findings were that some were really homeless, destitute, and at the end of their rope, while others had decent lives but didn’t like to work and could make more money standing on a street corner looking sad a couple hours a day then they could working full time. I remember when this seemed to be such a big topic, everyone was talking about it. I hurt for the ones who were forced, for whatever reason, to live like this and I was angered by the ones who were scamming and taking from those who actually needed it. The end result for so many though was to ignore them all because you couldn’t tell the legitimate ones from the scammers.
As we passed this man yesterday and one of the twins asked if I had seen what his sign said, I have to admit, my thoughts weren’t the greatest. He was a younger guy, didn’t appear to have anything wrong with him, and didn’t look all that homeless. I made the comment that he could probably get a job somewhere, even if it was at McDonalds or some other fast food place and that would keep him from having to beg or steal.
I know I have to teach my boys to work hard to provide for themselves and their future families and I don’t ever want them to think standing on a street corner begging for money is the way to do that, but first and foremost I have to teach them to have the heart of Jesus. Wow, with the attitude I had about that man, I failed miserably!!
My boys are used to seeing these guys, but this one seemed to stick with them, maybe it was because of what his sign said. Later in the day they told their dad about him and the whole conversation we had and I thought, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!!! Who’s heart am I accountable for anyway - mine and my boys or his!!!
When we got home and got the mail, I had received a new book to review all about simple ways to practice justice and compassion. Oh Jesus your timing is amazing!!! This morning I got up for my quiet time and eventually was led to Matthew 25 -
“Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” 34-40
You know, we never know who is for real and who isn’t, but that isn’t the important part. Jesus expects us to have the right heart regardless of what others are doing. I know I would give money or anything else I have to hundreds of people regardless of their heart, if I knew Jesus was going to be one of them. HELLO - Jesus is all of them - He said “whatever you did for the least of these, you did for ME”. You never know how the kindness of Christ through you will affect another person, you just have to be willing to do what He wants you to do and let Him do His part.
I know this, nothing new, just a slap from the Lord to get out of MY world and back to HIS!!
Thank you Jesus for reminding me to love all and to have compassion for all your people. I know You gave me a heart for people and usually I am in tune with what You want, but I also know I fail sometimes. Thank you for showing me my flaws and for helping me to work on them.
Counting it all Joy!!