If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? 1 John 3:17
I have the opportunity each month to mentor a few teen girls. While it is part of my role as a mental health provider to also provide some form of group counseling, the challenges of COVID means that the organization for which I work has had to be creative with how we provide this service over the course of the pandemic. As a result, many group counseling sessions take place outdoors or in the local community; at local parks or nature trails.
It was during one of these park activities that the discussion of homelessness came up. There was a homeless man walking along the edge of the street close to the complex where two of the girls lived. They talked about how they had given him money in the past, and one of the girls asked why he couldn’t just get a job. I told them why some of the population may not work, why I don’t give out money, but will stop and provide a drive thru meal, asking them if there was something left we could give that day. With excitement, they all noted we had an extra hot chocolate, and some left over snacks. “Let’s stop on the way back and give them to him!”
And so we did. I made it clear it didn’t matter whether he accepted what we gave, but that we gave what we had in abundance, cheerfully.
Jesus was clear many times throughout his ministry about giving, especially to those in need. In fact, he mentions in Matthew 25:35-40 how giving to the “least of these,” is like giving to Jesus himself:
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
We are called to give as Jesus gave, and He gave it all. We are called to love as Jesus loved. And he loved enough to die so we could have life. If we profess to love Jesus, we must be willing to give to others as a testament of that love. Not just to those we like. Not just to those that look like us. Not just to those in our inner circle, or those that believe what we believe.
To the hungry. To the thirsty. To the stranger. To the naked. To the sick. To the prisoner. As if they were Jesus.
We give in this way to the “least,” remembering we were once the “least,” and he gave to us first. We give because he loves, and we want others to know this love.
We don’t question who deserves it, we just give.