I’ve been thinking recently about my response when I’m out and about and someone asks for money. This on the heels of our Gospel lesson and excellent sermon on the story of the good Samaritan this past Sunday. Earlier this week, I was approached at a convenience store by a man who said he needed “money for he and his wife to get home,” and I responded that I didn’t carry any cash on me, which was a lie. And yes, I wondered whether I had made the right choice in my response.
So this morning I’m given another opportunity to test the lesson learned in church on Sunday. I’m in a Dollar General getting some items and am approached by a man who simply says “How are you doing?” I responded “Just fine.” He was carrying a package of socks and seemed to be looking for some other items.
The man said that he realized he was a black man (which to me, at least, didn’t make any difference) and related that he’d just been released from prison. He showed me his ankle bracelet as proof of his story. He told of several places that he’d been to for assistance and showed me a card where he had applied for a job. And yes, he wanted to know if I had any spare change.
Without hesitation, I opened my wallet and saw that I had a $10 bill, which I gladly gave to him. He seem somewhat hesitant when my opened wallet revealed a police badge, which I carry as a reminder of my son, who is a police officer. He thanked me kindly and asked that Jesus bless me. As I approached the check-out, he was in front of me in line. I shared with him several organizations that might be of help and told him it might be best to stay away from one establishment where he had applied for a job. We both then went on our way.
So the story in Sunday’s sermon had played itself out twice in my life. In one case, I didn’t offer assistance, in the other I did. I cannot tell you why I chose to respond in the way I did. I guess intuition has a lot to do with it. And knowing that we’re always given a second chance in this life.
I saw that the man had been able to purchase a few more items with the funds I had given him. As I left, I saw the vehicle he was going to be returning to and on this day, although I didn’t think to say it, I hope Jesus blesses him as well.