Thursday, May 10, 2007

Good Deed for the Day?

Proverbs 31:20 “She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.”

I did my good deed for the day today. Not in a legalistic, what-I-do-will-get-me-to-heaven kind of way, although I felt the temptation to feel that way. (While good works are a sign of a true, living, and active faith, they are not required for salvation. Because I am God’s daughter, the things that I do ought to please Him. But because I have trusted Jesus as my Savior, my only hope and the one who purged me of my sins before the Almighty, even if I do nothing I would still be His daughter. Please note: I am not advocating idleness. I am only stating the truth in an effort to clarify the narrow way to heaven.)

Every Thursday I exit the highway on a different ramp than normal. Last week, I noticed a man holding a sign and sitting next to that exit ramp. My initial thought was, “God, please protect me. My windows are down and my doors are unlocked.” That thought lasted a split second. My second thought was, “I had a sandwich and string cheese for lunch. What do I have left over that I can give to him?” But I had nothing left.

I didn’t immediately forget the incident, but by today I had completely forgotten it. Then I saw him again. Same spot, different sign. Dirty clothes, no smile. And this time, I had food: apples, in a disposable container. But I froze, and questioned internally, “What if he’s not really homeless? What if he’s an addict? Should I give him money? What if he tries to open my doors?” Again, my windows were down and my doors were unlocked.

The lady next to me made the first move. She honked, and he came over to her car. She gave him money and talked for a few seconds. That was just enough time for me to react. I grabbed the apples, called to him, and gave him the container. My taffy apple salad will taste a little different than usual, but I did my good deed.

Yet here I am, writing, which begs the question: WHY?

Williamson County is one of the wealthiest counties in the US. Jobs are available, people are moving in, and churches are thriving. I have heard so much about caring for the poor, widows, and children. But what can I do on a regular basis?

I heard about a woman who, after ignoring a homeless man in Chicago on her way to church every week for a few months, finally began making a sandwich and giving it to him when she passed by. Is that something I can do, too?

How can I obey without making what I’m doing rote “service”? How can I be a light in the darkness, without being shaded by the culture? How can I make service and sacrifice part of my daily walk?

Leviticus 25:35 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.

Deuteronomy 15:7 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.”

Deuteronomy 15:11 “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”

Psalm 82:3 “Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.”

Proverbs 14:21 “He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.”

Proverbs 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.”

Proverbs 19:17 “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given.”

Proverbs 21:13 “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”

Ezekiel 16:49 “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. … Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ …
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ …
“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’”

1 Corinthians 13:3 “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

Galatians 2:10 “They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.”

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