This article is part of the MH4C Writers Challenge. Since I’m taking a little break over the next few weeks, I’ve chosen ten guest articles to feature on this blog. I’d like to see which articles you like the most. If you like an article, please take a moment to ‘Like’ it on Facebook, ‘Tweet’ it, or give it a ‘Plus One’ on Google +. (To the right of the title, you’ll see each of those buttons so it should make your job easier.) The winner of the MH4C Writers Challenge is the article that has the most social media shares.
The following entry is by Jason Jacobs. He spends most of his time writing about his adventures with fitness on the slow-carb and paleo diets at his blog, FindingMyFitness.com. If you’re interested in grain-free living and recipes, you should check it out.
Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. – Matthew 25:40
Have you driven through a city or town and seen someone with a sign asking for money? How often do you oblige? Are you more likely to wish the light would change before you got there? It’s a common dilemma. It isn’t that you don’t want to help; it’s that you don’t want the money you give to be misused. There’s no question that as Christians we are called to be generous, and there’s really no question that we want to be generous. The question we struggle with the most is how to be generous. How can we tear down the walls in our minds so that we can open our hearts more?
An experiment in poverty
In the book Under The Overpass, Mike Yankoski and Sam Purvis describe how they set out to see how the Church responds to homelessness. Shockingly, often when they would go to churches they would be turned away. Once they were told that the church had gathered for worship, and Mike and Sam (who hadn’t eaten in a day and a half) were out of place asking for handouts before the service. A different time, two believers took sack lunches to a local park and then invited the folks to the evening service. When Mike and Sam went to the service, one of the believers took them to his car where he gave them two grocery bags full of food and enough money for bus fare to the next city. Which one would Jesus have been?
Should we be afraid to give generously?
When we begin to think about giving to the homeless, almost immediately we set up walls that inhibit our generosity. We decide who they are before even saying hi; making eye contact is an invitation to panhandle. We have good intentions, though, and we just don’t want to waste God’s money. But here’s the kicker: when God calls you to do something, He’s not asking you to put conditions on it. The truth is we can’t possibly imagine their pain. He’s the only one who can.
Then what do we do about it?
My answer is simple: we get creative. Bruce Wilkinson, in his book The God Pocket, suggests praying about being more generous. Let God lay on your heart an amount, and then let Him do with that amount what he pleases. Set it aside, literally, and ask God what He wants you to do with it. Then you won’t feel the conflict when you see someone in need.
Bringing it together
Being the owner of a fitness blog, another question I’ve pondered is how can I give nutritious options to homeless people?
The bottom line: take the money you’ve dedicated to God’s service and buy some type of gift certificate to places where homeless folks can get healthy, nourishing meals without you wondering how they’ll use the money you’ve given. A local grocery is a good option, but if you really want to keep the cigarettes and alcohol away, try places like:
- Tropical Smoothie
- Jersey Mike’s
- Local sandwich shop
Getting more creative
Mike said sometimes he and Sam had to walk miles to find a cup of water. That got me thinking about several other ways we can use God’s money to bless others:
- Buy cases of bottled water and keep them in your car. Hand them out instead of cash.
- Put together care packages of healthy non-perishables like nuts, dried fruit, and jerkey. Keep several in your car so you’re ready to give without notice.
- Buy some water bottles wholesale. You can even find places that will put some writing on it, so you could add a scripture that will bless the life of the reader.
- Get your church involved! Organize a drive for things like soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other hygiene products. Tell each person to take 5 and work on giving them out during the week.
- Hold a coat or backpack drive. Both of these things are coveted items on the streets.
We were created to be a blessing
God blesses us specifically so we can bless others. There are too many people that don’t have even the basic "necessities" we take for granted, and while sometimes it’s due to their own choices, that’s not always the whole reason. If you want to be more generous in your Christian walk, pray about these things and ask God to show you how He wants you to help. When you do it, you’ll be astounded at how fulfilled you feel.
How has God challenged your generosity, and how have you grown because of it?