Last week I encountered a panhandler.
Like most people, I ignored him.
My wife asked me to pick up dinner on my way home from work. I swung by one of our favorite places, a Mexican restaurant about 10 minutes from our house.
While driving home I noticed a panhandler standing on the corner by the stop light.
His cardboard sign was simple and to the point:
“Homeless and hungry, please help.”
I looked at him for about 3 seconds until the light turned green.
Then I drove off.
For the remainder of my commute I thought about our brief encounter:
“Maybe you should have given him some money.”
“Or possibly the coat on the floorboard of your car.”
“Or better yet, that Bible sitting in your backseat.”
“Maybe he needs some encouragement and a simple prayer.”
I don’t know if I was supposed to give to that panhandler that day, but I didn’t.
I kept driving.
I’ve thought a lot this past week about him. I keep asking myself these particular questions:
How should Christians respond to poverty? What exactly is our role?
Here’s a list of some thoughts that have come to mind this week.
What happened to personal responsibility?
When is the last time you met an actual need for someone less fortunate than you? I’m not talking about through a non-profit or your church (although these are great things).
When is the last time you and your family recognized a need–then met that need, privately, with no fanfare?
Where’s the church?
The church as a whole has failed in helping to solve the epidemic of poverty.
More times than not, we give out of guilt–without really addressing the true needs in our community.
Let’s be honest:
It’s hard for people to experience the love of Christ when all they can think about is their next meal.
It’s easy to assume homelessness is the direct cause of past, sinful choices.
But should that even matter?
Didn’t Jesus die for them, just like He died for you and me?
It’s time for you and I step up and start loving people to the cross.
When you have apathy towards the needy, you demonstrate that you have not been truly transformed by the grace of the Savior.
There’s a great passage of Scripture in Matthew 25 that says this:
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.
35 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.
36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.
One of the most profound things we can do as Christians is show love to those who have nothing to offer in return.
It’s in those moments that we are most like Christ.