The title of this post might seem paradoxical.
Shouldn’t I be the one showing Jesus to a homeless man? Isn’t that what I’m called to do?
Allow me to explain the exchange that happened last night. My heart was blessed and I want to share it with you, in hopes that it might encourage your walk with the Lord.
I was leaving the crisis pregnancy center where I have been training to be a counselor. (That is another story for another time, but let me just tell you, I don’t think I’ll ever leave that building with dry eyes.) My friend and I were taking the metro home, and as we were walking down, a homeless man asked us for some money in order to get a metro card.
We stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes. He told us that he wanted to get to the local homeless shelter to get a bath and spend the night in a warm building instead of sleeping on the sidewalk in the freezing cold weather. I happily put some money on a metro card for him, and started to walk away. The man started talking about how he hoped the shelter still had some food left, because he was hungry. (At this point, it was about 10:00 pm, and highly unlikely that they would still be serving dinner.)
Let me pause in my story….
Ever since arriving in D.C., I have been struggling with how I should properly respond to the homeless. They are literally everywhere. I probably pass at least 8-10 between my office building and the metro station. It is literally impossible for me to help them all. I am a single woman supporting herself in a large city. I’ve gotten so overwhelmed, because I know that I can’t help them all. As a result, I haven’t done anything. A famous quote from the beloved Mother Teresa has been swirling around in my mind recently…..
The Holy Spirit urged me to offer to buy him dinner. I asked if we could provide dinner for him, and he immediately answered a resounding, “yes”. My friend, and I headed up the escalator with our new friend. He told us that his name was Charles. On our way to get food, the conversation centered around him currently looking for a job. The conversation seemed to take a natural turn towards spiritual matters. I asked him very bluntly if he knew Christ as his personal savior. He immediately got a huge grin on his face and said, “Yes, yes I sure do”.
We stopped in a local pizza joint and he ordered himself a pizza. While we were waiting, he shared about his relationship with the Lord. The restaurant was empty except for the staff, and while we were talking, I noticed that the staff was intensely listening to our discussion.
Wow, this man knew his Bible inside out. He shared one spiritual truth after another. One thing that he spoke about was how we as Christians have a duty to show Christ to the world by our actions. Obviously, we are saved by faith alone, but how will the world know that we belong to God if we never show them HIS love.
One thing that Charles said that will stick with me for a long time is this:
“We can’t out give God!”
I’ve heard this cliche saying before, but coming from a homeless man, who told me how he has sought to give out of the little he has and how God has continued to bless him. Now that is powerful! You would expect a homeless man who literally has hardly any earthly possessions to hold onto what he has with clinched fists. Instead, this man has chosen to give thanks and see how God multiplies. He has chosen to trust God.
I don’t understand the circumstances that lead to homelessness. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even know why Charles was homeless. All I know is the Lord asked me to buy him dinner and have a conversation with him.
What resulted was Charles, my brother in the Lord encouraging my faith. He showed me Jesus. He reminded me that I can trust God with everything – my finances, my relationships, my job, my love life, my past, my future, my time, my resources, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, just because I give, doesn’t mean that God is going to immediately bless me with material resources. I am not an advocate of the prosperity gospel, in fact, I think that is heresy! What I am advocating for is the truth in these verses:
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25:40
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6