We’re all walking down life’s street.
Your street may look different than my street. Yours may be steeper. Rougher. More potholes. More desolate.
Or maybe it’s smoother. Fewer steep hills. Filled with beautiful scenery. Lots of fellow travelers.
But no matter the name of our street, we all encounter it.
It usually presents itself as we are walking along minding our own business. We look up and there it is. Someone who is hurt and bleeding. Dirty. Hungry. Needy.
We immediately assess the situation. Do I continue walking? Do I make eye contact? Do I simply ignore them? Do I give them money? What will they spend it on? Am I being taken advantage of? Will I get sucked into a situation I don’t want to be in? I just don’t have time for this.
And we have to make a decision.
Do we walk towards them or do we cross the street?
I can hardly move past that sentence because it’s so filled with conviction and messy possibilities.
There have been countless times that I quickly cross. I don’t have the time or energy to care for another. I’m barely caring for myself and my family, I think to myself.
There are other times, I have the desire but not the resources. So I cross.
And there have been a few times, I boldly walk toward them. My heart wants to help. And when I do, I quickly realize that the situation is way bigger than my intended quick fix. It requires my time, sacrifice and getting my hands dirty. It’s HARD. And messy. Overwhelming. And yes, sometimes, I was indeed taken advantage of. And I quietly resolve that the old saying must be true….“no good deed goes unpunished.”
This tension is one I struggle greatly with.
So, this morning I resolve that I will sit at His feet and ask Him for guidance and wisdom.
It’s the only way I will know what He is asking of me. Because, you see, I firmly believe that it has much more to do with my heart and yours, than the one we are attempting to help. God is infinitely able to help that person at any time…through any one. But He is asking you and me.
What will I do? Will I cross the street? Or will I help?
What will you do?
And our decision matters. It affects my heart and yours. It either softens our hearts… or hardens it. It either helps us learn to open our hands… or hold on tightly. It reinforces humility… or pretension.
And I don’t know about you, but I have a long way to go. This battle in my heart is between two very strong desires.
So I pray today that as you and I continue down life’s street and we encounter those in need- whether physical, financial, emotional or spiritual- that before we quickly assess and decide on our own what we would do, we would pause and pray for God’s guidance.
Will we cross? Or will we courageously engage?
Will we stop to listen, care and help? Will we pray and ask God how we can best serve? (Because sometimes it may not be money that’s most helpful, but a heart that listens and our time that simply says they are worthy.)
God, this is such a tough and loaded question. But You are faithful and will lead us, if we just pause and listen. Thank you for caring for us. For we, too, are the least of these in one way or another. We are all your children in need of your love. Thank you for being our most beautiful and powerful example of sacrifice. Help us to go and do likewise. Amen.
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[a] 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.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:30-37)
3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.
4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,[a] get up and[b] walk!”
7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.
9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! (Acts 3:3-10)