There was a thread on social media the other day about a woman in the local WalMart parking lot who was going around asking for money. Her story was that she was out of gas and her kids were in the car and she just needed enough money for gas to get them home. She was spotted later in WalMart buying something trivial like cigarettes or People magazine.
I pulled up to a stop light and there was one of those guys holding up a sign. I didn’t hear a voice. I didn’t feel a nudge from the Holy Spirit. I guess I had been thinking about something that triggered it. The thought came to me ‘if you’re going to think about it and write about it and talk about it you ought to do’. I never carry money with me anymore but for the last few weeks I’ve wound up with money in my billfold. I knew there was a twenty in there. I hoped there was something smaller. There was. Two fives. I took one out and waved it at him. He came and took it and said thank you.
I didn’t feel the approval of God. He didn’t pat me on the back and tousle my hair and say ‘Good boy’. I didn’t feel anything. I don’t know if I helped someone in need or I was scammed. For all I know he had a five liter Mustang in the Target parking lot, one with stripes down the middle and a testosterone throated exhaust.
Our pastor preached on the Sermon on the Mount last night. Jesus told us to love our enemies. Jesus said that if they ask for your coat you should give them the shirt off your back. I thought how upside down and backwards that sounds compared to the world we know and understand. The truth is that it’s our world that’s upside down and backwards. We see a world that is images on a cave wall. The world we see is distorted and out of focus images in a fun house mirror. Jesus came to tell us the truth, to show us the truth, to be the truth. Our world tells to collect all the five dollar bills we can and hang onto them. Jesus says we should give them away.
We need to be good stewards of what God has given us, right? We don’t give away our five dollar bills to people who don’t need them, who don’t deserve them. Right? So what’s the ratio? Would you give your five dollar bills if you knew that one in three would go to someone in need? How about one in five? Feeling really brave? Try one in ten.
Jesus gave His life and through the centuries untold billions have said ‘So what? We don’t need it.’ But Jesus did it anyway for the relatively small minority who said yes and became sons and daughters of God. He gave His all and it was wasted on untold multitudes. But He did it willingly and joyfully because He did it for me.