It was freezing out, an icy, rainy day, and my list of things to do was huge. I headed to the Post Office, wanting to get in and out as quickly as possible. I parked the car, ran across the street, and as I stepped carefully onto the icy sidewalk, a man approached me. He was probably in his late 20’s or early 30’s. His hair and beard were caked with icicles, where the rain came down and froze on them before it could drip off. He had a thin blanket wrapped around his shoulders, and in a very quiet and calm manner, asked, “Ma’am, would you happen to have a dollar or two for me to get something to eat?” The sorrow in his eyes struck me to the core – you could tell that this man hated to be at a point where he had to ask for anything. I told him, “I’m so sorry, but I never carry cash. I’m sorry!” He just nodded, and said, “That’s ok, ma’am,” and he stepped back to let me walk into the Post Office.
It didn’t take long for me to take care of things inside. The entire time, my mind was racing, wondering what I could do for him without the 4 men in my life getting very upset with me for possibly risking my life to help a stranger. I wrestled with knowing that there was a Coney Island just a block or so away and that I could cover a meal for him with my check card. Could I? Should I? Was I being taken? Could I be putting myself in a dangerous situation? I cannot stand the cold, the vision of that man with the ice in his hair and beard haunted me. What would Jesus do? Would Jesus worry about my safety, or would He expect me to do for someone else what I would want someone to do for me? Oh, what should I DO???
As I came out of the Post Office, I realized that I should do something. After all, if anything happened to me, my future is already determined – no one would have to worry about me anymore. Right? Still, I wavered. I stepped onto the sidewalk – he was still there. I walked by him, giving him an apologetic smile, hoping he could see how upset I was by what he was going through. Just then, a man pulled up to the sidewalk, saw the homeless man and asked, “Hey, are still out here? Come on, I’ll take you over to Coney Island and get you something to eat.” The two of them got into the life savers car and off they went.
I got in my car, and just started bawling my eyes out. I was crap. The lowest of low. Who could do that? Who could walk by someone with icicles in his beard and not get him something hot to drink and food for his belly – make sure that he had a warm place to sleep that night. I saw Christ on the cross, looking at me. I had let God down. I was devastated. Crushed. Shattered to the core. I sobbed my heart out to God and asked His forgiveness and promised Him that I would not overlook anyone in that situation again, when I felt such prodding to help.
The next week, I went to the grocery store and stood in the line to checkout. Since it was a long line, I could hear the conversation between an older gentleman and his granddaughter. They only had 4-5 items on the check out counter, but they were trying to decide between two other items, laundry detergent or shampoo. They didn’t have enough money for both items. The grandpa told his granddaughter, “Go ahead and put the shampoo on there. I think we can make it with both of them.” I felt God. A prod. Now what would I do? I made eye contact with the cashier and mouthed to her that I would be picking up their tab.
Now before you go and think I’m so wonderful, number one, they didn’t have very much on the counter, remember, and number two, remember the homeless man with icicles in his beard? Yeah. Not so much.
As the cashier rang them up and told them they could go, they said, “But we didn’t pay!” She said, “Don’t worry about it, the lady behind you has paid for it.” One of the most embarrassing moments then ensued as they both, very loudly and overwhelmingly, thanked me. What joy came over me to be able to deliver that day!! I could barely wait to get out of there and get in the car. I floated all the way home, and let me tell you, I had an experience, something filled my entire body with warmth the entire trip home!!!
God must feel disappointed many times in the way I let Him down. What I found out that day was that when you realize it and mean to change your behavior from that point on, He will honor you. God is waiting to shower us with His blessings – we just need to be open and aware and willing to serve!
34-36“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
41-43“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
44“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
45“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
8You will do all right, if you obey the most important law in the Scriptures. It is the law that commands us to love others as much as we love ourselves. 9But if you treat some people better than others, you have done wrong, and the Scriptures teach that you have sinned.
31-34“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
35-36“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.