Beggar to Beggar
JUNE 4, 2015
It was one of those driving mistakes where you find yourself on the wrong road, headed in the wrong direction, adding an additional 20 minutes to your drive. I was already running late to pick up my boys from Nana. I didn’t need this.
I made the necessary exits and turns to get back to the right road. As I pulled up to the intersection leading me back to the right road, the light turned red. He caught my eye standing on the corner with his sign, “Homeless, Need work, Happy New Year.” I reached into my purse and pulled out some money and rolled down my window; he came near. I said to him, “I don’t have work to give you, but I do have this,” and handed him the money. He looked at me and said, “Thank you, you are kind.”
Those words hit me hard. I looked at my steering wheel briefly and then back at him. “No,” I said, “I’m not kind. I’m just a fellow broken human being.” He looked down at the ground and then back at me, “Wow,” a pause, then, “Thank you.” “God bless you,” I said and rolled up my window. The light turned green and I drove off.
My husband teases me that I can’t let things be, that I can’t stop myself from correcting incorrect statements. This often leads me into muck and mire—often better if I had just let the statement stand and walked on. I could have just said “Thank you, God Bless” to the man’s “You are kind,” rolled up my window and waited for the light to turn green.
“I’m not kind. I’m just a fellow broken human being.”
But, the fact is, I’m not kind. I’m selfish and self-centered—I initially resented the man for standing there and burdening me with his suffering. I’m not innately kind; this act of charity, this act of kindness came from something unnatural, from something given to me. The kindness from me came from God’s kindness towards me. I gave because God has given. My gift (of a few bucks) flowed from the new eyes and the new heart that God has given me through the proclamation of the gospel: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15).
God’s word is a leveling force—it equalizes the rich and poor, the strong and weak, the capable and incapable, those with a home and those without. Through his law, God destroys the illusion that any of us are better off than our neighbor; through his gospel,
God brings to life a new heart beating with compassion and gives a new way of seeing our neighbor: as ourselves.
What I saw standing on the corner wasn’t just a poor, homeless person. I saw a fellow human being, loved by God, one for whom (like me) Jesus was born, died, and raised. I saw my neighbor, my brother. God has given Jesus to me; and so I gave: beggar to beggar, beloved to beloved.