I have spent the last few years of my life trying to do everything but help people. I have immersed myself in business ventures, lost myself in university education, spent way to many hours on Facebook and found excuses in health problems. I have told myself a thousand times:
“I’ll go to the mission this weekend…
…when my back stops hurting.
…when we get through this financial crisis.
…after the ballgame on Saturday.
…when the kids get out of school”
These seem like reasonable excuses. We as hard working Americans should have some time to ourselves. We have to look after our own health. We have to look after our family. We have to pay bills and keep the roof over our heads before we can help others. How can I help someone else if I can’t help myself? These are just some of the hundreds of things we tell ourselves to justify our time spent on earth not doing what God has asked us to do with our lives.
Here;s what God says we should be doing:
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. – Isaiah 58:10-12
God is telling us that we should “spend [ourselves] in behalf of the hungry”. What does spending yourself look like? It seems to be a lot more than 10% in the plate on Sunday. The King James version translates as “if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry”. Drawing out your soul is giving the best and most of yourself. Do we give the best and most of ourselves to the hungry, oppressed and those in need? I can safely say that most of us, including myself, do not. I am more apt to give leftover stale bread to a person than the tastiest fresh french loaf from the bakery.
Why are we reluctant to give to the homeless?
Some of them are lazy. Some of them are criminals. Many of them stink and have bad attitudes. Some of them do not deserve to be helped. They make us uncomfortable.
Neither you or I deserved to be helped when we measure ourselves to the standards of God.
Yes it is a cliché today to say such a thing but I ask you not to disregard it merely for its overuse. What is true about all of those who are hungry, homeless and oppressed, is that they need love. They, like you and I, need love. They need someone to help get through life’s absurdities and show them how to smile. They need someone to talk to. They need to be treated like human beings and most of them want just one friend they can trust. You can be that friend and you can show them the way to the Ultimate Everlasting Friend.
My wife and I have had problems being country club Christians for years. We are nowhere near where would like to be in our giving. We are making daily changes in habits to accommodate more giving in the future. One thing we started doing recently is to go down to the downtown rescue mission every Sunday and deliver food from her extreme coupon trips. We have been able to meet a few people and are starting to get to know some of those who are hungry and homeless. They are becoming our friends and I have found that the ones I have met are more beautiful than my country club Christian acquaintances. These people are meeting Jesus head on everyday and finding small miracles in the daily struggles of survival. I love being around them. They inspire me to do more and become a better Christian.
I hope that you can find it in yourself to rearrange a couple of things in your life so that you can learn to spend yourself to the hungry and the oppressed. You will see God in those times and find inspiration. The excuses will melt away one by one and soon enough you will want your days filled with helping people.
If you have any ideas or questions about rearranging your life or helping those in your city please comment or email me.