Friday, September 18, 2009

The Real Gift is Giving

The other day my husband and I were blessed with a gift of some extra cash. This wasn't anything we had earned or worked for, just a gift. It was nice because we still had a week until my husband was paid and we needed to buy diapers and pet food. But we would have been able to get by without it. It was a blessing.

As we were driving home, we decided we needed to give God back some of the blessings that He had given us. We decided that the best way to do this was to help someone who truly needed it. There is an older man who sits in the parking lot of the grocery store complex near our house. He is there most days and was there that day as well. My husband decided that our church had more than enough today, that man needed this money and that would be our tithe of the blessing we had received.

We drove our car and handed the man a bill. It was not an extremely large amount, but not the smallest denomination of money either. It was just a small amount really. But to this man, it was everything. When we handed him the bill, he must have expected a $1 or maybe a $5. He thanked us without looking at it, then as he glanced down at the unexpected amount, tears welled in his sun weathered face. The tear whetted the dirt that was stuck on his skin.

"Are you sure??" he asked, disbelief on his face. He held the bill like it was the most precious thing he had ever seen. He stared at it for a moment and then glanced up at our car. I felt petty and touched. I had so much compared to this man, this amount of money I had taken for granted time and time again. As we reassured him that we wanted him to have it and it was a gift to him, I wanted to give him more, I wanted to love him. He reached out and shook my hand, but I wanted to hug him and take the pain away, to reassure him that God loved him and that there was hope. I didn't hug him, had I been out of my car I probably would have, but I shook that man's hand with as much love as I could put into a hand shake. He doesn't even know it but he changed MY life!!!

The gratefulness he showed me gave me so much love and hope! I really realized at that point how much God loves him. I had always known this in my head, but this time God really revealed it to me. The difference was seeing it- but really seeing how much God loves him was miraculous. It made me different. It made me want to be this man's friend. Never before would I have thought of being friends with a fifty- something panhandler, until that very moment.

I know that God was pleased with us for handing the money to the man, but how much more pleased would he be if I loved that man?? As a real friend? Not just to drive by and hand him a sandwich or a $20, but a friend that cared. To walk by and talk with him. Maybe bring him water or blankets, what HE NEEDS, not what I want to give but his actual needs like a friend does.

That afternoon, though the man got a gift of a need being met, I got a gift. I saw God's plan a little bit. I understood a bit more of what Jesus' heart is. That we would find him in the least of these.
Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

I wasn't helping that man, I was helping Jesus!!

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