Serving in the New Year

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! Matthew 25:40 NLT

He pushed a buggy up and down the sidewalks and always appeared to be in a hurry. Never a smile . . . never a conversation with anyone.

“I hate to throw away all these leftovers,” my wife said as we sat at the supper table.

Cooking for two people challengers her, and she had prepared too much for our New Year’s meal. We had eaten leftovers twice and still had more to consume.

“What would be wrong with me warming up the leftovers for the homeless man down the street?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I replied, seeing her big heart explode with moisture in her eyes.

A number of homeless individuals reside in our town, but recently two homeless men had taken up residence in the area near our home. One lived in a small shack a local business had erected for him. So my wife warmed up the leftovers and placed them in several to-go plates.

As we pulled up to the man’s shack, he mulled around outside. My wife stepped from the car and told him we had some food for him. His response puzzled us.

“You can take it and give it your dogs,” he muttered as he shook his head back and forth.

“But, it’s home-cooked food,” my wife protested.

“You can give me some money, but I don’t want your food,” he ranted.

My wife’s pleading did no good. He became more irritated and tossed demeaning remarks. He wanted money to buy his own food but would not take our food. Perhaps he was mentally challenged. Perhaps he feared we were trying to poison him. Maybe he didn’t want charity, even though he was homeless.

“Just leave,” I finally told my wife as he continued to fume and rave at us.

Jesus lists the thirsty, hungry, prisoners, naked, strangers, and sick among those we should serve in His name, but He never said our efforts would be easy, convenient, or always accepted with warmth and appreciation.

Having this encounter with one homeless individual could have made it easy for me to stereotype all homeless people. Instead, I prayed for him that night, asking God to soften his heart towards people who try to help him. And when God prompts us, my wife and I will help again.

God judges my motives, not the people’s response whom I try to assist. He holds me accountable for doing the proper thing whether others appreciate it or not. And doing the right thing always feels right because it is the right thing to do. God’s love cannot be contained in a body. It must flow to others as God designed it to.

Don’t let fear, inconvenience, or bad experiences keep you from spreading God’s love this New Year.

 

Martin Wiles

Martin lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is the author of six books, a minister, an English teacher, and a freelance editor. His most recent books are Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He has been published in numerous publications. Wiles serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us) and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three. He can be contacted at mandmwiles@gmail.com.

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