Compassion in Action

These verses resonated with me today:

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17, 18 NIV)

This weekend when I was shopping at Walmart, I had a man come up to me when I got in my car and ask for some money. This is something that is fairly common when you live in the city, instead of living in the suburbs. I have not had a tremendous amount of experience living among the poor, but I certainly got my eyes open to a lot more of this when I lived in Mexico City in 1992 to 1993.

When someone who is poor confronts you personally and asks for a handout, it challenges you at several levels. It encourages you to ask, what am I doing right now to help the poor and this person specifically? I know it is generally a bad idea to give cash to people who ask for handouts, because many of them will use the money to buy drugs, alcohol, or something else that is probably not in their best interest to consume. It can seem very harsh and callous, however, to reject every single request for help when you confront someone personally.

In the case I am describing, I went ahead and gave the man $10. He said he was homeless, and I asked him if he had been to the City Rescue Mission or any of the other shelters in town. He said he had, but said some things about how they didn’t meet his needs and he did not like them. I held his hand and said a prayer for him and over him. He told me he knows God has many names, and one of them is Jehovah. I encouraged him to seek God and call on his name. His name was Rodney, and when I prayed and I prayed for God to bless my brother Rodney.

I am not sure what I did in the situation was right, but I was inspired to pray by Paul Burns book, “Prayer Encounters,” which our spiritual parenting class will be using this fall. Paul’s basic message is, instead of telling someone we will pray for them, we should take an opportunity and pray for them right then in that moment.

There are many things I do not know, but I do know it is right and good to lift each other up in prayer. Giving Rodney $10 provided an opportunity to say a prayer together. I continue to pray that God will open up doors of love, kindness, and help for Rodney and his family.

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