The closest most of us get to the poor is when we pull up to a stoplight and we read the sign of the man standing on the corner. Questions come to mind while assessing the person standing there: Are they really homeless? What would they spend the money on? Why are they homeless anyway? Isn’t it illegal for them to stand there? I believe that the reason we ask ourselves all these questions is an attempt to free us from the guilt of not giving while impatiently we wait for the light to change.
Over and over the Lord tells us to give to whoever asks. He doesn’t tell us to question the poor or to judge them, but He tells us to open our hand wide. Uck! How do we do that and why should we do that? In both the Old and New Testaments, there are verses like Deuteronomy 15:7-8 that say, “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs” and Luke 12:33, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
These verses express God’s heart and will for us. But I found that I could not follow through in blind obedience. If I truly were to give freely to the poor, I would question what “freely” meant and would feel guilty that I didn’t give enough or that I did not give graciously and “cheerfully.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Either way, I would feel badly. Obviously, I have struggled with this a lot. As a Christian, I want to please the Lord and to do what is right in His eyes. Also, as a Christian parent, I want to train my children in the ways of the Lord in everyday application, not just in memorizing Bible verses or having a lot of “head” knowledge.
So, I prayed about it. I asked the Lord to help me in my own every day application so that I can let my right hand freely give without my left hand interfering. (Matthew 6:3) His answer came in a variety of ways, ranging from the passengers in First Class to the Rescue Mission’s radiothon.
At the Rescue Mission, the homeless and helpless had nothing to offer and only one thing to give. They were asked to give their commitment to follow the program and to listen to those who freely gave of themselves to help them. I couldn’t help but compare this program and the homeless to the Lord and myself. The only difference between me and the person on the street is the grace of God. From God’s point of view, I am just as poor and wretched as the next person without the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God freely gave to us but it cost His Son, Jesus, everything. We were freely able to receive at someone else’s expense - Jesus’. All that He asks of us is our commitment to follow in His ways by listening to His instruction.