Having compassion on those less fortunate
In today’s world, it’s common to see people standing on the corner holding signs that declare how desperate they are for financial assistance. One older gentleman in particular pushes a shopping cart around town, and it’s usually filled with empty cans and various items he has found. His skin is weathered and wrinkled and occasionally someone will stop and talk with him and bring him a sandwich. In speaking with him I discovered he receives social security and has a modest place to live, but he seems to enjoy walking the streets and is free to do whatever he wants as long as he is not bothering anyone or causing a problem. We have a number of other colorful characters that do the same thing and remind us there are people who live a much different life than we do. I’m sure there are reasons and circumstances that would explain their situation but we are not to look down or be cruel with those who have experienced a difficult and disappointing life. Colossians chapter 3 describes the attributes that Jesus is hoping we will realize and develop. “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, a heart of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; showing patience and understanding, and forgiving one another.”
As a community chaplain and a member of our state and local emergency crisis response teams, I am involved with those seeking assistance, especially during the wintertime. Our local leaders graciously open the schools and specific buildings for temporary warming shelters for the homeless, and restaurants are always generous to donate food. Recently, a new emergency shelter has opened with a vision to provide 60 beds, along with washers and dryers where individuals can maintain their clothes, and they also attempt to serve three meals per day. My sister Terri, who helps me each year with the County Fire Department holiday food boxes for the needy, was taking a tour of this new facility recently with her 8-year-old son Victor. He listened as she was explaining to him about generosity and how important it is to help others. Suddenly, he spoke up and said, “Mom, maybe the man that pushes that shopping cart around town can find this place.” The room fell quiet. The innocence of a child had connected with having compassion for someone in need. This brings a tear to my eye as I think how important it is to teach our children to not take our blessings for granted and how Christ wants us to love and help others. James chapter 2 talks about seeing someone in need, and telling them to be blessed but what is faith without works? We can also use the excuse that people have created their own problems but we have all made mistakes. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25:45, “Verily I say unto you, in as much as you neglected one of the least of these, you also neglected Me.”
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky where he is a Christian author and community chaplain. To learn about his free CD offer visit billyhollandministries.com.