Whatever You DID!

I often pray "God, lead me where you want me to go!" I mean that when I say it, but I don't think I always follow His directions very well. Maybe my prayer needs to be "God lead me where you want me to go, and help me to go where You lead me!".

God does His part, I'm convinced, in answering my prayers, yet I think sometimes I'm not very perceptive while He's pointing the way. I think I often expect God to just steer me as I go in life, and He does that for sure, but do I miss other opportunities He puts before me on that path as I'm going along? Is my eye only on the end of things, or what's happening now. I do "press on toward the goal to win the prize" as Paul says, but I think I miss a lot of what's happening around me, and God expects me to do both!

One very cold night I was on business near Little Rock AK, and reached my hotel about 11:45pm. As we parked, a man approached with a long story about his broken down truck that was at a mechanics shop nearby to be fixed the next day, but he was having to sleep in it that night and it was cold (About 17°). He didn't look homeless, but I pulled out $100 and told him to get a room for the night. With several "God bless you's" he walked away in the opposite direction, and before we could get from the parking lot to the hotel entrance, others were there with hands out. It was a bit scary, but it was also quiet obvious we'd been set up, so we declined and walked away. My money probably bought drugs or booze for them all and I felt like I'd been burned. So some are scammers, and occasionally we will get scammed, but if we give with the right attitude, God knows that and it's the scammer that will be disapproved of by God, not us.

I think I am asleep at the wheel most of the time when God leads me past people in need. I see them at times, and other times I'm even in contact with them, but I don't inquire into what they need. Why? I don't know the answer. If they came to me and needed money for food, I'd give it. If they informed me of other needs that I was able to fulfill, I'd do it. If they had large hardships and came to me I'd find a way, probably with the help of the church to assist them. But that's them coming to me and making the need known.

As Jesus taught about the judgment day, he said the King will say to the righteous, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me..." (Matt 25:31-46) You know the rest of the story, they asked Jesus when did they do any of this, and Jesus said if and when they did it to anyone who was in need, even "the least of these" people, then they did it to Him.

I'm not exactly sure who "the least of these" are, but I've looked at what some people think it means and here are their opinions:

"someone overlooked or ignored"

"no matter how unimportant"

"any of my people"

"brother or sister, hungry or cold"

"unbelievers who are in need"

"poverty stricken, needy"

One author expanded a lot, and said Jesus was referring to the apostles and other people who had been persecuted, and then suffered things such as imprisonment for following his teachings. Yet another author suggested it was solely intended to refer to the poor.

So regardless of exactly what Jesus may have meant, it's clear that we need to just see people, the poor, both those who are genuinely poor and those who may be out of money from decisions of their own doing, those struggling in hard times, those looking for jobs but can't find one, and all those who are lacking in daily necessities and try to help them.

We probably cross paths with people in need more often than we realize, so why do we have such a hard time asking if they have needs? Sometimes it might embarrass them to ask, but we ought to be willing to risk that, and ask anyway. But even "those people" are people, and our command is to help people, even "the least of these" Jesus says.

If you have ever tried to help people, you have probably been burned at least once, and maybe it has caused you to not want to help anymore. We are totally against them spending our help on booze and cigarettes or similar things, and we consciously don't ask if they need money because we don't want to help enable them in their misbehavior. But you know, there is a way to help even people like that, you just don't give them cash. If they say they are hungry, you buy them food. If they say they need help with a bill, you pay it for them. Even some of these people are cold at night and have empty stomachs.

There is a guy locally who has mis-used money when I've given it, but he wears my old boots and coat every day when it's cold, they are much better than what he had. He has a propane cook stove he uses for heat, so I buy him propane and don't give him cash when he says he's out. Surely you also see people who are destitute and need help. Find ways to help them. In doing so, you are doing it for Christ!