I was on my way to take out cash from the ATM when I saw a woman on the corner holding a cardboard sign.
Passing by the sign, I read, “I have 2 kids.”
Sadly, I have to admit that this is normally where my story ends. This entire blog is about leading a hospitable life, and yet rarely am I the good Samaritan that we read about in the Bible. I do my best to avoid eye contact, and I look the other way. Oh sure, I’m hospitable. I find plenty of ways to be generous to others, but it’s not often that the recipient of my kindness is the stranger standing on the corner with their cardboard sign.
I suppose my heart had become hardened to this scenario. The problem is God doesn’t grant me the responsibility to judge a person’s worthiness when they are in need. What He does ask of me though is to trust and obey.
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! ~ Luke 6:32-33 NLT
I continued on my way to the ATM, but then remembered I didn’t actually have enough money to make a withdrawal. I was about to turn around and head home when I glanced in the rear view mirror at my two little guys in the back seat. A stirring in my spirit told me to go back to read the rest of the sign.
I learned that the woman had just lost her job and was asking for help with food or money.
Well, I had no food in the car and money wasn’t an option, so what was I to do?
It would have been easy to go home and tell myself that I really had nothing to offer. After all, I had done that very thing many times before. However, this time would be different. This time I chose to broaden my perspective on generosity. Jesus tells of multiple ways that we can provide for others.
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ ~ Matthew 25:35-40 NLT
In that moment, I chose to be a connector. It just so happened that I had a friend working for a staffing agency who might be able to help the woman find a job. I swung back around, rolled down my window and gave her the contact info. As our eyes met, she said, “God Bless You,” and I drove home feeling good, not because I had done anything especially grand but because I had obeyed.
Later that evening, my good feeling began to dwindle.
Why had I felt so much better than that woman? After all, I only had a few dollars in my checking account. What was it that made us so different? Well, I had comfort in knowing that my financial circumstance was temporary. In a few days my account would be replenished, and I would go about my merry way.
I also thought about how in today’s unfortunate economy many people lose their jobs, and yet they are not all standing on corners looking for assistance.
There had to be more to the story. A reason why this woman’s circumstances were so dire? A reason that caused her to take such extreme measures in search of help?
I understand that there could have been many reasons and I have no way of knowing for sure, but after pondering for a while the answer that was laid on my heart was community.
Surely this woman had a friend, a neighbor, a coworker…someone…anyone that could have stopped to help her before she reached that point of desperation.
To that woman, I was a stranger who felt led to show her kindness, but to others I am called to be so much more, a wife, a mother, a daughter…the list goes on and on. Most importantly, I am a child of God, and He has called me to be in community with those around me. I am called to weave my life in with theirs so that I may know intimately their struggles and victories. My friend, He has called you to do the same. Yes, there will be times when we are to act as the good Samaritan, but more often we will be called to offer generosity to the people God has placed in our community before they even set out on that difficult path.
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” ~ Matthew 10:42 NIV
I didn’t have a cup of water that day, but I had a name, a number and a promise of hope.
What has the Lord blessed you with so that you may bless others?