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Thursday
May182017

The Least of These

Susan K. Stewart is is a practical and insightful writer with heart. In this Ministry and Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she encourages us to think like Jesus thinks when it comes to "the least of these."

“Today I encountered another “panhandler” on the corner of a busy intersection.” Susan said.

“As is my habit, I grabbed some bills out of a container on my console and handed them to the man. Once again I hear in my internal ear, ‘He’s only going to use it for drugs or booze.’”

Yes, I (Dawn) have heard that thought many times. Who hasn’t? But then there is another voice, a still, small voice of love.

Susan continues . . .

Quiet down internal ear.

As I gave this man a couple of dollars, I thought about a Dave Ramsey quote, which had been circulating on Facebook:

“Make sure that you are actually helping someone when you give them money, not just enabling bad behavior.”

I generally appreciate Mr. Ramsey’s suggestions. In this case though, life experiences have changed my way of thinking about this kind of giving.

Like others, I have thought those who ask for money, food, or whatever are drug users, alcoholics or morally unacceptable people.

Then the situation hit closer to home.

Our son was diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Like so many who suffer with these confusing brain diseases, his recovery didn’t start right away.

Unlike many other diseases, mental illnesses don’t have a quick fix. Too often our loved ones flounder trying to get better, trying to be good people, trying to be normal.

Like others, our son followed a path of self-medication through alcohol and drugs. Much to our pain, we had to ask him to leave our home. He began couch surfing, but at times would just get in his car and leave.

With no real destination, we never knew where he would end up. Most of the time he survived these trips by begging. Had it not been for the generosity and kindness of others, my son may have committed a crime or worse, died on the streets.

Maybe I respond with gifts as returning favors others gave my son.

Begging or panhandling is the practice of imploring others to grant a favor, often a gift of money, with little or no expectation of reciprocation.

Panhandlers are often found in public places such as street corners, urban parks, and near busy markets. Besides money, they may also ask for food, drink, cigarettes, or other small items.

According to a study in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, “seventy percent of beggars stated they would prefer a minimum-wage job, typically citing a desire for ‘a steady income’ or ‘getting off the street.’” Mental illness was cited has one factor that makes them feel they cannot handle conventional jobs.

Beggars have existed since the beginning of time. We know Jesus encountered many of the less fortunate. What did He say?

First, there’s:

“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Mt. 7: 1-2 NASB).

Think. Have you ever picked up a free cup of coffee or snack? What if someone said that you don’t deserve it because you have caffeine or sugar addiction?

You don’t want to be judged in that way, do you? Does that person on the corner deserve it?

Second, in the New Testament:

“‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 

"The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’ (Mt. 25:37-40 NASB).

I don’t recall that Jesus ever said, “Help those who meet this list of qualifications.” He said help the least of these.

I believe money or other possessions belong to God. I need to make them available to God for his use, in his time, and in his way.

I’m responsible to God how I use or not use what He owns.

When I pass one of those possessions to someone else, that person becomes responsible to God for its use. If that man on the corner this morning buys a bottle of wine, he has to answer to God.

  • Ask God to give you an opportunity to give a gift to someone on the street corner.
  • Give, not worrying about the gift, but praying for the receiver.

Give to the least of us.

How do you feel when you pass a beggar? What do feelings have to do with it, really? What might the Lord be saying?

Susan K. Stewart—when she’s not tending chickens and peacocks—teaches, writes and edits non-fiction. Her passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Susan's books include Science in the Kitchen, Preschool: At What Cost? and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. Learn more about Susan at www.practicalinspirations.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of hotblack at Morguefile.

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