It started with wanting to get ice cream for my 8-year-old daughter. As I held the door to McDonalds open for her I noticed a man approaching in dusty, dirty clothes. As he tried to get my attention all I could think was, “Oh boy, here it comes.”
Sure enough, he asked me if I could buy him a McRib Sandwich. Hesitantly, I said OK.
As we waited for our order, I tried to get between my child and this stranger. As my daughter’s ice cream cone was piled high, the stranger’s sandwich was hid in a to-go bag and set on the counter, as if they were asking him to leave.
This time of year, we’re going to be asked for money. Whether it’s when we’re walking into the grocery store, from our car on the street corner or just stopping at the gas station – it happens.
So how do we respond in a Christ-like way?
Cynthia Massie and Chris Millheisler work in the inner city ministry of Cru and while they agree there are no hard-and-fast rules on how or when to give, they have some helpful thoughts on responding wisely:
They believe sensitivity to God’s leading is key.
“The person with God’s heart will naturally have a heart for the poor and will listen to the story of that man or woman,” Cynthia said.
Yet, we find ourselves not knowing how to help. We think of excuses LIKE thinking we’re enabling, saying they’ll just use the money to purchase alcohol or drugs.
Then if we don’t give we’re playing judge, making assumptions about these people we don’t know who are in a situation most of us have never known.
Judging them might help us escape a feeling of guilt, but the cost may be we miss an opportunity to love our neighbor and a chance for them to experience God’s love and grace.
So what can we do?
“We don’t like messy,” Cynthia said. “But we’re all messy, broken people. We dress it up on the outside but inside we’re all messy broken people.”
Though we may not be in need materially, we’ve all been spiritually bankrupt before we met Jesus. We are given an overflowing bank account of grace. With this we can look to give Jesus' grace to others.
writes for Cru's publications as a missionary journalist. He earned a master’s degree in Christian studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Philip balances family life along with bike riding, drawing and whittling toy cars. Contact him at Philip.Long@cru.org.
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