Sunday, November 23, 2008

Date written: September 29, 2008

“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 5:40-42

A couple of days ago a group of friends, Kert and I were out of town and visiting our uncle’s hardware/lumber store. As we were getting out of the car, a man approached Kert. In my friend Kelsey’s words, “We are out of town and out of the car for two minutes, and of course who finds Kert.” A skinny, suntanned man in his late forties approaches my husband, and we immediately know what is about to ensue...this man (we’ll call him James) begins telling Kert his story--a story I am sure of impeccable hardship that has left him and his wife penniless. If James only knew how often my husband got “hit-up” for charitable donations. I wish I could say that we rarely run into this kind of situation, but that’s not the case at all.

My husband Kert is a worship pastor at a medium-sized church located in an interesting part of town. He frequently has men and women come into his office needing money for gas, money for their electric bill, money for food—you name it. He has given many rides to people who need to get somewhere. And he’s heard every reason and/or excuse for his or her financial situation. We as a family have also had our share of experiences with the needy. Somehow they see my husband and feel like he can help them. This is interesting to me because we are by no means a wealthy family. We both drive well-loved used cars; we are not into jewelry or the latest fashions. In fact, I think the last time we actually spent more than twenty bucks at a clothing store was—wow, I can’t even remember! It had to have been over three years ago. So why do they feel like my husband can help them? What do they see in my young, cargo-shorts-wearing, sole-patched chin husband?
I’m sure you’ve guessed where this is going.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.....” Matthew 5:14

My husband has said, “Do they see GULLIBLE written on my forehead? Do I look like an idiot?” I strongly disagree. I truly believe that Kert shines forth the radiance of Christ. I see in Kert the truth of Psalm 34:5 which says,
Those who look to him (the Lord) are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.He powerfully exudes the “inexpressible and glorious joy” that 1 Peter 1:9 talks about and people feel like he has answers and that he can help them. Praise the Lord he is bold and while occasionally he feels like he can’t help the person, he definitely tells them about Jesus, our awesome Savior who has saved him and can save them.

NOTE: I am studying the Word to understand what our response should be to those who communicate that they have needs. Kert and I have seen that only a small minority of those who actually approach us seem legitimate and honest. I have come to call our experiences the “heartbreak of generosity.”
Heartbreak of generosity: Giving to the needy and learning/feeling that you have been taken advantage of.
So wait patiently and in the future I will share what I have learned about the heartbreak of generosity and our response to it. Until then, it is better to err on the side of mercy than on the side of judgment because “mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).”


lou said...

I needed to read this today - I get jaded from all of the sob stories I hear and think somehow it is up to me to discern if they are deserving of help or not. think you and Kert both are a beautiful light in a dark world.