Wednesday of last week, a disheveled man came to our church and started wandering the halls. One of our men intercepted him in the hall and took him to meet our assistant Pastor. He then returned with the man in tow and asked several of us to pray for his needs. The four of us stood in the hallway praying with him for only a few minutes. Our visitor had all of the physical characteristics of someone who was a habitual drug user or alcoholic. He kept mentioning how he had lost his job as a temporary and needed prayer.
To my knowledge, after we prayed for him, he wandered off again without anyone ever asking him if he knew the Lord, what his real monetary needs were or how we, as a church family, could help him.
Sunday he returned. As I left children’s church I saw him. He was still wearing the same shirt and jeans that he had worn Wednesday evening. He apparently had just left the visitors meeting and had met our pastoral staff. He was carrying one of our church’s visitor bags with our doctrine, an audio tape and other goodies inside. He recognized me and came over to say hi. He immediately mentioned that the temp agency had found another job for him but that the work didn’t start for another week. He again mentioned that he needed some help so he could pay his bills. For all the world, he looked and acted like a panhandler that had sized our church up and was going to try to get some free cash.
In spite of my mental attitude, I suddenly felt as though I was being told to help him. I handed him the twenty that I was going to use for our lunch at a fast food restaurant on the way home. I felt the Lord was telling me to give it to him so I did – but at the same time it seemed that my soul was telling me I was a sucker and that he was just grubbing money. He acted as though I had given him a thousand dollar bill and thanked me profusely. I gave him a hug and told him to come back Wednesday.
Then something unique happened. It was as though I received an immediate answer to my negative thoughts. All of our children suddenly developed an urgent need to go somewhere other than lunch with their parents. I no longer had any need for the twenty I had given away and my wife and I were left to return home alone for a rare, quiet lunch together.
As if that wasn’t enough, at breakfast this morning, one of my Christian friends mentioned reading 1 John 3:15. When I started reading at verse 11, I knew the Lord had used my friend to further reinforce the lesson by speaking directly to me. 1 John 3:11-18 says “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not have love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material posessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
I don’t believe it matters if a needy person is lost or born again. Regardless of the reason for their need, it is very real indeed and it is not for us, as Christians, to be judgmental and withhold assistance based on how we feel about them or how they got into their predicament. We are to love everyone just as our Lord did. As Christians we’re quick to offer our prayers for those in need but often we’re too selfish to go the extra step and provide the physical comfort and assistance the Lord wants us to give them. Luke 10:33 isn’t about praying for someone’s needs. Jesus, in the parable states “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, puring on oil and wine. The he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him’, he said, ‘and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'”
I wish I had given the man more and I hope he comes back to our church again.