It is important to help people who are in need. I have helped many. And yet, government entitlements often bother me. That was the case this particular day. I was in Save-A-Lot grocery, standing in line to check out. I had five or six items in my arms. In front of me was a lady with a grocery cart full of items. Most of the items were things that 1) I either could not afford, or 2) that were what I considered non-essential food items.
I inwardly fumed as I saw a packet of food stamps sticking out of her purse. As a pastor, my salary was low, and we were very careful in how we spent our money. It didn’t seem right. As I considered these things I noticed that her food stamps had fallen unnoticed to the floor. At that moment, my fuming turned to debate. Do I pick up the food stamps and give them to her? Do I ignore it and see what happens when she gets to the counter and can’t pay for all of her groceries? What should I do? The debate was short lived. The Holy Spirit stung my conscience. I didn’t want to grieve Him above all. Reaching down I picked up the food stamps and gave them to her explaining that she has just dropped them. The pain in the matter is that it is better to suffer what sometimes seems to be an injustice than it is to risk displeasing the One we love supremely. Helping others will not always be convenient, cost effective, or comfortable. As followers of Christ, however, we look to Him for His nod of approval as we endeavor to help others.
By Dr. Gayle Woods
8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:
Bruce, my neighbor, sat in his wheel chair. He had just come home from the rehab center. Due to an aggravated case of sugar diabetes his leg had been amputated at the knee. That was just part of his problem. While in rehab his wife, Nancy, who seemed to be a picture of health had a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital. Shortly thereafter she died. Bruce had just come home to an empty house.
As we talked about his trouble we cried together. Placing my hand on his shoulder I said, “Bruce, can I pray with you.” Receiving his assent, I poured out my heart to God asking for God’s comfort and provision for my neighbor Bruce.
Is this something that is out of the ordinary for a Christian? It should not be. Others should be able to tell that we are Christ followers because of our love for one another, but they also should be able to tell that we are Christ followers because of our compassionate love for them.
Our mission field is normally within walking distance. Our mission field is often the next person we meet. To fulfill the royal law, Christ’s love must exude from our life. It is not something we only take to church. It is an expression of who we are in Christ.
By Dr. Gayle Woods
An everlasting impression was pressed into my memory as a child. In the days of my childhood we had “hobos” who were at times seen in various parts of my hometown. It was rumored that if they got help from a resident, the common practice was to mark the property with an “X.” Evidently we had a big “X” somewhere in our front yard.
My godly mother was not one to turn away from what she considered to be a genuine need. She also loved to cook. Back then, the homesless made house calls. When a hobo came to our home asking for money for food she would tell him to sit down on the porch while she prepared a plate of food. She did not settle for a sandwich and chips. Neither did she warm up leftovers. She cooked a full-fledged hot meal and served it to the hobo on our good plates. I cannot help but think that God smiled and nodded His “head” in approval.
Isaiah is not just talking about helping the needy in our scripture reading. After discussing fasting that comes from the wrong motive in vss. 1-5, he turns to describe the type of fasting that pleases God. Interestingly enough, fasting is more than going without food. Properly practiced, it means to adopt a lifestyle in which self-satisfaction and greed are spurned while being replaced with a compassion for the poor and needy. This pleases God and leads to His blessing. This, my mother seemed to understand.
By Dr. Gayle Woods