"I'm just too cynical to give out my money like that" my dad stated as I rolled down my car window and handed a few bucks to a man carrying a sign that said "Out of work Vet." Sadly, I was the same way.
I always thought if you really wanted a job you would get one. Ok, so it's not management and you go home smelling like frying oil every night, but it's a job. Maybe it's driving a trash truck or cleaning up a construction site...certainly not glamorous, but you would be bringing home a paycheck. I mean, really, how hard can it be??
Then, I'm pretty sure God took time out of His very busy day to pop me upside the back of my head. "Does My word not say 'Judge not lest ye be judged'? Does My word not say 'Care for the widows and orphans'? Does not My word say to look after your fellow man? Who are you to harden your heart towards those you know nothing about?"
Yeah, that pop upside my head kinda hurt. No, it really hurt. God pointed out to me what I was doing. That I had become cold and hardened to the plight of His children. What did I know of that man on the street corner? How could I judge someone just based off of a sign they held in their hands? Who was I to judge that woman, eyes downcast, begging for spare change? I knew nothing of these people, and yet I denied them even the pennies in my cup holder.
God has released something inside of me and has enabled me to not just give a couple of bucks to the dirty man on the street corner, but to be able to reach out, shake his hand and tell him I'm sorry it's not more. My children ask me questions: who is that man? is he poor? does he have a place to sleep tonight? what did you give him? do you have anymore to give him? My babies...with such soft hearts have encouraged me to always carry a few dollars in my wallet now.
I pay more attention now...I see the plight that so many people face finding a job. Good people who would clean up trash, honestly can't find a job. Good people, whose health is failing them, are getting laid off. Good people are hurting. Just because they are dirty does not make them less human. Just because they are holding a ripped piece of cardboard with the words "Will Work For Food" does not make them suspect. Just because they have on a what looks to be a new jacket does not mean they are out begging for fun.
We still have people and places who take care of the poor and homeless. These places do what they can with what they are given...and perhaps some new, warm jackets came in the night before. Do not let looks fool you. Let your heart and God's word be your guide. After all, do you really think people hang out at street corners for hours in the cold just to gain your spare change? Do you really think people endure the stigma of being poor or homeless just so they don't have to get a "real" job? Do you really think people want to beg?
Every penny adds up...but more than that, every kind face, every warm hand shake, every honest word spoken adds up. I hope you can be a part of acknowledging those who are less fortunate. Even if you have no money to give, you can give a hand shake and a word of encouragement...sometimes those mean as much as the dollar in change you dig out of the bottom of your purse.