Matthew 25:35-40 (NLT)
35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.
36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[a] you were doing it to me!’
Proverbs 19:17 (NLT)
17 If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord— and he will repay you!
Job 31:16-20 (NLT)
16 “Have I refused to help the poor, or crushed the hopes of widows?
17 Have I been stingy with my food and refused to share it with orphans?
18 No, from childhood I have cared for orphans like a father, and all my life I have cared for widows.
19 Whenever I saw the homeless without clothes and the needy with nothing to wear,
20 did they not praise me for providing wool clothing to keep them warm?
Job 31:31-32 (NLT)
31 “My servants have never said, ‘He let others go hungry.’
32 I have never turned away a stranger but have opened my doors to everyone.
Psalm 41:1-2 (NLT)
1 Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.
2 The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies
More than Just a Box of Chicken
Yesterday while channel surfing I saw a man on TV who stated that he had been homeless for the past 17 years. He stated that he had lived from place to place in various shelters as well as other similar facilities. Many of us have a hard time being displaced for one night not even to mention seventeen years.
During the interview the man said, “I just feel like I don’t fit in”. My heart went out to him.
Many times while driving, I have seen homeless people walking and I have often wondered what their story is. I am curious to know how they got to this point. I am curious to know what went wrong in life that forced them to be in this particular situation. Whether by bad choices or just a series of misfortunate things happening. Trust me, I am not in judgment of them because I realize that many of us are only one paycheck away from being where they are.
You see approximately 30 years ago on a very cold January day, I had gone to Dallas, Texas on business. Before leaving to head back home the person that I was riding with and I decided to stop and grab a quick box of chicken at a fast food restaurant. What happen next changed my life and my perspective forever. The person that I was riding with went in to purchase our chicken. I had decided to just stay in the car. I was sitting in the car when I saw an older unshaved man with a very tattered and worn out jacket on, that had not been cleaned in quite some time going into the trash dumpster digging around for food. All of a sudden the door to the restaurant flew open and the manager came out yelling at the man and telling him to leave the property at once. He was shooing him off as though he were a fly. I don’t know if he had a history of doing this or what.
I sat there watching his every move. After the manager walked back into the restaurant this poor man proceeded to go from car to car begging for money to buy food. No one would help him, many ignored his presence at their car windows.
Finally it was my turn, I wondered as he went from window to window, what I would do if he came to my window. Well suddenly I no longer had to wonder. I rolled my window down just enough to hear him, when I looked at his face there was a tear running down from one eye as his body shivered from the cold.
He said “Mam would you please give me some money to buy food?” I literally had given my last bill to the person that went in to purchase the food. My heart sank. I could not let this man want for food when it was within my reach to help him. My immediate thought was how could I eat and enjoy my food when he would be left cold and hungry? I said, “Sir I have just given my last bill to the person that is buying my lunch, but when he returns to the car I will be happy to give you something to eat.” Around that time the manager came out again to ask him to leave and told him that he could not approach the customers. The manager spoke harshly to him and with no compassion what so ever.
He left my car before I could give him the food. As he walked off he had a look of despair on his face his head hung down in a state of shame, helplessness and disappointment. My eyes followed him as I watched him walk some distance until he went around a fence that separated the parking lot of the restaurant from that of another business.
When the person I was riding with finally returned to the car I explained to him what had happened and I told him I had to find that man. I did not open my box of chicken because that box of chicken was no longer mine.
I pointed in the direction I saw him go. As we drove around the side of the fence we entered into a gas station parking lot. We saw the poor little man sitting on the ground with his back up against the wall of the gas station right next to the men’s rest room.
I was elated to have found him. I told my friend to stop. I rolled down my window and said sir, “I have your chicken.” As he approached the car I held the box of chicken out the window so he could see I really did bring his food. As he reached his hand out to receive his food, tears ran down his face, this time from both eyes. I noticed something different, it was as if his eyes were sparkling not just from the tears, it was as though there was something very, very special about him. I have wondered many times since that day if, he could have possibly been an angel that I entertained unknowingly.
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”(Hebrews 13:2).
Our eyes locked and he said, “I hope you have a happy and a prosperous New Year. I really do thank you.”
When our eyes met I knew this was about more than stopping to buy a box of chicken for lunch, this was an opportunity to serve. This was an opportunity to joyfully share one of my many blessings.
As we drove off I burst into tears, I cried for miles down the road each time I thought of him in the cold or remembered the way the manager treated him, and the tone in which he spoke to him. He spoke to him as though he had no dignity or feelings, as though he wasn’t human. My heart broke for him over and over that day.
Although I only had a box of chicken to give, my prayer is that he saw a glimpse of Jesus that day.
I have often wondered what happened to him. He will never know how God used his circumstance to change my heart and my life that day. Even to this day I cannot tell this story without tearing up. I can still see every detail of his face as though it were yesterday. Today I ask you to remember that every life has value in God’s eyes, and every person is His creation. We are all to be respected and loved no matter our financial status, race or creed.
Do what you can for others while you can. When you see someone who appears to be homeless, remember they have a story and God loves them just as he loves you. This person may very well be your opportunity to show God to someone who does not know him. We are blessed to be a blessing to others.
Proverbs 14:20-21 (NLT)
20 The poor are despised even by their neighbors, while the rich have many “friends.”
21 It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.
Galatians 2:9-10 (NLT)
In fact, James, Peter,[a]
and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. 10
Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do.