To give or not to give – that is the question.
This is a question I ask myself many times a day, or many days a week, or many times in a lifetime.
Why do I ask myself this question so much?
Growing up in a Third World Country – Honduras (although I hate this categorizing, I put it this way because it’s a way for people of many parts of the world to better understand) you find yourself driving or commuting to work or just anywhere and you’ll be stopped at least 2 or 3 times by strangers, be kids, women, the elderly that are not necessarily homeless but that ask for your help with their current situation, mostly due to poverty. So, after being stopped by many strangers during your day (or night) you start over-thinking the act of giving.
Let me explain:
I was once at the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant in my hometown San Pedro Sula, it was about 7 pm. The most beautiful little girl, I’d say around 7-8 years old approached me and asked me if I wanted to buy some coloring books from her. I said, “Ok, sure. But, why are you out at this time of night selling coloring books when you should be at home? Where are your parents?” The little girl explained that her parents worked at another corner and that she was in charge of taking care of her little brothers while her parents worked nearby and that they would meet when their “shift” ended. I decided to help her out and bought one coloring book. As I was leaving because I had already gotten my food through the drive-thru window, I spotted the little girl running towards the street, where there sat two women. She handed the money to them and then ran back to her “station” at the fast food drive-thru.
This little girl has always been on my mind. How many cases like this do we encounter every day? Why did the parents make this little girl work while they just sat there? How could they exploit their child this way? Didn’t the government do anything about this? Isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Why didn’t I do more? What can I do to help her?
If you live in a third-world country, or you live in a big city that has strands of poverty, this story is not new to you. You probably encounter situations like this every day. And when you see the injustice, especially with children, you start thinking thoughts like “Why am I going to help this child who is just a slave for her parents?” “I’m not going to give them money, they will use it on alcohol, or drugs or whatever.” “My money isn’t going to solve their problems.” “The government should do something about this.”
Yes, I could have done more for this child. I could have “Stopped and smelled the roses” and given her food, given her my time, given her a hug or even gone the extra mile and meet her parents and try to get jobs for them so that their children wouldn’t have to work. Reporting them to the police could have been an option as well, but in poor countries like Honduras, that would just leave the children to join the system where there is hardly any food, clothing and love. But I didn’t. I was one of the many who are too busy with their lives, cars, phones, jobs, that we forget about the rest of the world or how we could put our time to work for others.
To answer my question then – To Give or Not to Give?
God commands us to give to others. You and I can give to others in many ways. Yes, money is important, but so is love, so is time, so is food.
Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
My favorite verse is the following:
Matthew 25:35-40 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
This week, let’s follow Jesus’ example in Mathew and try to do the following:
1. Find a hungry/thirsty person and feed him/her.
2. Talk and listen to a stranger. Ask them how their day was but be honestly interested in listening.
3. Donate your lightly used clothing to someone who needs it. Find a person who’s looking for a job and help him/her dress appropriately for the interview. Donate an outfit: suit, shoes, purse, light jewelry. Your help will not only help them physically but boost their self esteem.
4. Visit someone. Visit a friend, your grandmother, a sick person. Visit someone in a hospital who has no family or friends.
5. Visit someone in prison, if you can, and if the law allows you to. If you’re not comfortable doing this, write them a letter. (Some websites that give you tips on writing to inmates: http://www.prisonerlife.com/tips.cfm and http://www.writeaprisoner.com/)
I say YES to give. I work daily on my thoughts to try not to judge why people ask for help, money, food, etc. I’m not wearing their shoes, I don’t know their journey. But I know my journey, and I know it is much better when I give time, love, money, food, etc. We might have more than the person next door.