Am I a Hypocrite?

If I recall correctly, I recently mentioned the fact that my church hosts a group of homeless men in the CARITAS program one week a year, and I help out with other members of my Sunday School class one night during that time. We get their evening meal ready and pack bag lunches for them to take wherever they go the next day. Some of our class members are more outgoing in talking to the men–there are usually about forty of them–and I actually sat down with one of them this year for what turned out to be an extended conversation.

CARITAS is a worthy program and our participation isn’t very challenging. Even though I never look forward to it each year, I’m always glad I helped out.

That’s not what I feel hypocritical about, though.

beggar2

Just off of Rt. 1 at the entrance to our local Martins Grocery Store, I frequently see a tanned, trim, bearded fellow sitting on the median strip where people exiting at the light can’t miss seeing him. Especially if they’re stopped for a red light.

He always brings a chair or a stool–one very hot day recently he was shading himself beneath an umbrella–and water. Oh, and he has a sign. As you can see from the picture above, it says, “Spare change. Anything will help” and “God bless.” It does NOT say, “Will work for food.”

I’m jealous of Jesus, especially regarding this man. He knows people’s hearts. He knows this guy’s circumstances and whether offering him even the smallest of contributions would be good or foolish.

Yes, Jesus knows and I sure don’t. I’ve always been skeptical of beggars. And knowing that the men of CARITAS are genuinely homeless and that many of them actually have jobs but just not a place to live doesn’t help me feel any better about this guy.

The Bible talks about helping widows and orphans. This man doesn’t qualify. And Jesus said the poor will always be with us. But what do I do about this fellow?

I don’t dislike him. I would probably feel very sorry for him if I could determine the truth about his situation and if it demonstrated genuine need.

Am I a hypocrite for willingly helping with CARITAS but ignoring this man? I honestly don’t know.

I almost wish I could conveniently park and stop and talk to him. It’s not as if I’m afraid of him. But so far the best I’ve managed was to smile and wave at him once. Maybe twice. If I had an unopened bottle of water in the car, I’d probably offer it to him. But that’s the extent of what I’d do.

WWJD? What would Jesus do? I can only shake my head. He’d know the best thing to do. The right thing. He was never hypocritical about anything. And He never ignored people’s needs. Their real needs.

What would you do? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“God don’t put a new suit on the man…”

oldBuilding2     oldBuilding

As I ride up and down Route 1 every week going to our church’s nursing home ministry in Ashland, I pass by the building pictured above. Although it’s set back off the road, it’s pretty hard to ignore. I don’t know exactly what kind of business used to occupy that structure, but there’s still a “Fifty years in business” sign in the window along with “We build, we insure, we finance.”

I’m also not sure how long it takes pine trees to reach the height of those growing immediately in front of the building, but in my approximately seven years of participation in the nursing home ministry, I don’t recall ever seeing any signs of life there. Not inside, that is. But I’ve been watching those trees grow taller and taller.

The building may not be the greatest, but I would consider the location itself to be ideal. Busy roadway. Lots of passing traffic. Plenty of parking space out front.

But it remains unsold. I suppose no one sees the potential there.

On another part of my weekly journey, however, I used to pass by an abandoned service station. The kind with old fashioned pumps. Very picturesque. How often I wished I had the wherewithal to buy it and spruce it up. It wouldn’t be big enough to live in, though. Not very practical.

But one day I saw signs that it was being fixed up. Little by little it was properly landscaped and turned into a nifty looking little barbecue place. Someone else saw the potential and did something about it.

The Bellamy Brothers have an album of spiritual songs called Pray for Me. I’ll be honest. I was amazed at the nature of some of the songs, based on what some of their more secular songs are like, but I love the album. One of my favorite songs is “New Man in the Suit.” It says that God doesn’t put a new suit on the man. Instead, he puts a new man in the suit.

What a wonderful description of the transformation God can bring about in a person who may appear to be tattered and worthless. He can take someone who’s at rock bottom–like that abandoned service station–and give him new life. In God’s eyes, even someone comparable to the pine-fronted building still has potential. God may not change those people’s circumstances–He may not put a new suit on the man–but what a difference the inside changes make.

A number of congregations in the Richmond area participate in something called “CARITAS” (it means “love for all”) It’s an outreach to the homeless. Participating churches allow a group of homeless people to sleep in the their building for a week. They also provide dinner and breakfast, as well as pack a lunch for the homeless to take with them the next day as they go out. Some to jobs. Others to look for work.

Our church is hosting forty-some men from Caritas this week, and the Sunday school class my wife and I are in will be responsible for the evening meal tomorrow night and breakfast the next day. We’ll also bag their lunches.

Perhaps more important, we’ll sit with the men and talk with them. We’ll show them love and respect. They are people God loves and sees potential in. He may not “put a new suit on the man,” but His love can do a miraculous job of “putting a new man in the suit.”

What do you think of the “new suit” idea? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. It seems to depend on how you got to this blog. If you see “Leave a Reply,” it’s not a problem. Otherwise, however, go  to the bottom of the post, beneath the “Best regards, Roger.” On the very last line of that last section (just above the previous post) you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger