But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. – 1 Corinthians 1:27
I was leaving the grocery store and had just started my car, when I was approached by a man pushing a stroller. I assumed he was going to ask for directions, but it turned out that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“Hey man, I really need some help. My daughter and I just got evicted from our apartment.” He proceeded to rattle off his story as I listened uncomfortably. He had contacted Social Services but they wouldn’t be able to help him until tomorrow. His wife had left when things got tough. He was afraid of losing his daughter. He’d found a cheap motel to stay in, but he still needed seventeen dollars to pay for the room.
Now, several things began to buzz through my head as he talked. The first was how I didn’t trust a thing he was saying. In Asia, I’d seen female beggars use their children to garner sympathy from passing strangers. In South America, older men would hold Bibles or crosses, not because they were Christians but because it encouraged people to give more generously. Everything about his story felt rehearsed, staged, right down to the toddler in his stroller.
The second thing was that the man had said he needed \$17, which was the exact amount I had in my wallet. I had been hoping to use that money to grab a lunch out or maybe see a movie, but could I really justify being so selfish if this guy really needed it? I considered giving him a few bucks just to make him go away, but withholding the rest didn’t seem any better than giving him nothing. It felt like I was trapped between two choices, would I be stupid or heartless. Eventually, I considered what Christ would have me do, and handed over the money along with my best wishes.
I don’t know what became of that man. Maybe he was telling the truth, maybe he was lying, and to be honest I don’t really care. God has called us to love, and you cannot love others if you are afraid of looking foolish. Remember what the Bible says in the book of Matthew,
“’You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’” – Matthew 5:38-42