Wednesday October 4, 2023 From Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving
What Happens to God’s Love?
“If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears.
And you made it disappear. My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.
This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality.”
— 1 John 3:17-19, The Message
A downtown congregation in a moderately-sized community had occasional homeless persons who would ask for handouts. Sometimes street people would be found sleeping on the front steps. The staff developed rules, guidelines, and policies for how to help or where to refer those who asked for help. They had many discussions about the pros and cons of giving cash, vouchers, and addresses of other social agencies.
As the pastor was leaving the church one afternoon, he noticed the part-time custodian carrying out the garbage to the large trash bin in the alley. There was a homeless person sprawled out beside the bin, barely conscious. As the custodian approached the trash bin, he set down the garbage bag he was carrying, pulled out his wallet, and removed a few dollar bills. Without being asked, he walked over to the homeless man and gave him the money, said something, then continued his work and returned to the church. The pastor was amazed and humbled by this extraordinary display of generosity. The part-time janitor who earned less than anyone else on staff gave generously without even being asked, while the staff had spent hours trying to figure out policies and procedures.
The pastor asked the custodian why he gave the money and pressed him about whether he thought the homeless person might misuse the money for alcohol or drugs. “I always do what I can,” the janitor answered. “I give them a little money and say, God bless you, because I figure that they are some mother’s son, some father’s child, and so I give them something. What they do with the money—well, they have to answer to God about that. I have to answer to God about what I do with mine.”