Last week I finished an incredible book called, “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns. This book is the reason these issues have kept me up late at night.
Richard Stearns is the President of World Vision in the U.S.- a Christian humanitarian organization. Stearns shares his testimony about how he went from being a corporate CEO driving a jaguar to president of World Vision rescuing children in the trenches of poverty. He talks in great length about the need that goes largely unnoticed by most churches and many Christians in America. He described in detail about how if only the church stepped up to be the Church, we can help and fix many problems throughout the world.
But you see, often times, once our heart is finally willing to give, we tend to only want to help those who “deserve” help.
If we suspect someone will take advantage of us, we refuse them.
If we think someone is acting in ways we disapprove of, we turn away.
We judge the person before helping them.
We accuse them before loving them.
I think we might even go as far as looking for every reason not to help so we are justified in not helping.
Other times, we just flat-out don’t want to help people.
I’m just as guilty of this.
About a year and a half ago I was walking out of a store and saw some Girl Scouts selling cookies. Without skipping a beat I walked over to the table and bought a couple of boxes (who can pass up Thin Mints and Samoas?!). I jumped in my car, opened one of the boxes, and drove off while taking a bite of a cookie. At the first intersection I came to was a homeless person holding up a sign asking for help. Instantly I put the box of cookies on the floor so they wouldn’t see them- there was no way I was giving up my cookies.
And that was my attitude.
I wish I could say that I changed my mind before driving off that day, but nope, didn’t happen. It’s haunted me ever since. After I bought cookies this year I was practically looking for a homeless person determined not to make the same mistake.
In the passage following Matthew 25:29, Jesus continues by talking about our responsibility of feeding, clothing, and caring for the poor. [Take a minute and go read the rest of that chapter.] In fact, Jesus goes as far to say in verse 45-46, “…I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” That’s a pretty strong statement there.
You see, Jesus didn’t judge those he helped and he didn’t only help the sinless.
He helped crooked politicians.
He helped prostitutes.
He helped the diseased.
He helped me.
He helped you.
Earlier this week I was walking out of the grocery store with all three kids in tow. As I got to my car a women approached me saying she needed help. She told me that she ran out of gas and needed help. I told her I didn’t have any cash on me, but if she would follow me to a gas station I would love to help. She seemed hesitant, but finally agreed.
So, we did just that. I led her to a nearby gas station and we both pumped gas. Through our conversation I learned she was from New York and that she came to California because of a church. I mentioned that I belonged to a church too and that my husband was a pastor. She finished rather quickly, thanked me over and over, and in minutes drove away. The entire ordeal cost maybe 15- 20 minutes of my time and $17.56.
You see, it didn’t matter her heart condition at that moment, didn’t matter if she was a Christian or not, it didn’t even matter if she was being honest or not. All that mattered was that someone asked me for help and I was willing to respond. I didn’t have to go sell something to do it or go home and analyze my budget. She needed gas in her car- it was the least I could do. And I guarantee you- she was touched and the rest of her day was different as a result of our encounter.
As I mentioned I had all three kids with me that day at the grocery store. During the drive between the grocery store and the gas station Lily asked me what we were doing. Here’s how the conversation went:
Lily- “Mom, where are we going?”
Me- “We’re going to help that lady put gas in her car.”
Me- “Because I think it’s what Jesus would do.”
Lily- “Well why doesn’t He just do it himself?!” (She’s four but the way she said this she sounded about 14.)
I don’t think she is the only one with the tendency to think that way. Isn’t that most of our attitude when God asked us to do something, “why doesn’t He just do it himself?”.
My response to her was, “because He’s not here so He asked us to do it for him.”
Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
What is God asking you to do for Him today?
Tomorrow I’ll share some more about the value of the gifts we give.