The $5 Dilemma

$5 to any average person in America isn’t anything of “real” value.  I mean, for that amount I can get a meal at McDonald’s, a tall peppermint mocha at Starbucks, or maybe find a t-shirt on sale at Target or Old Navy.  Either way, I can get something, but not a whole lot.  Even kids get bigger allowances than that now-a-days (which is a whole other post for another time).

To preface myself just a bit, I am one of those people with a bleeding heart.  I cry at the Hallmark and holiday Publix commercials.  I get a lump in my chest when I see kids wearing clothes that have obviously been handed down so many times that they are well past their expiration date and ill-fitting either because they weren’t bought for that child or because the child is too malnourished to fit them correctly.  I want to rescue (most) the dogs I see at the Humane Society.  I even worry about turtles I see crossing the road, praying they make it across safely (and yes, I have pulled over to pick up a couple to ensure some element of safety for them).  This also extends to those people I see sitting on the side of the road asking for food/money/work/anything you are willing to give them.  I can’t tell you the number of times that I have wanted to go, pick up lunch somewhere and bring it back to them.  I rarely do, but why?

Part of my fear to do this simple action stems from the common sense I was born with (if that term sounds weird, hang out in the South a spell, you’ll hear it plenty).  You see, I acknowledge that I don’t live in Mayberry and that I am a pregnant young woman with a young child in the back of my car.  There are genuinely nice and wonderful people down on their luck and then there are the scum that ruin it for the others because it makes people like me afraid for my safety and my child’s safety if I were to go and talk to them.  It’s not right, but it is sadly the world we live in today.

The other part of my fear is doubt in the human race.  Remember the scum I just mentioned…it’s because of those men and women (and children sadly enough) that you hear people say, “don’t give them money, they’ll just drink it away (or use it for drugs, or whatever else they may decide to use that money for, but certainly not food or basic necessities).  Part of me knows that this is true and even though that $5 is minimal to me, I cling on to it, because at least I know I won’t just blow it (because buying an over-priced cup of wonderful peppermint-y, chocolate-y goodness from a company that’s taking over the world is definitely not blowing it…right?)

Beyond using “the sense my momma gave me” (another wonderful Southern colloquialism that means the same thing as the sense you were born with) and beyond my distrust of the human race on whole, I face another dilemma…one that is the only one that truly matters in the end.  You see, I have given my heart and my life to Jesus.  It’s been a journey and a process (18 year process and still a long way to completion).  But when I made that decision, I also agreed to follow his commands and his teachings.  And there is this one that comes to mind.  It’s found in Matthew 25.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdomprepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

You see, I want to be a sheep.  I don’t want to be a goat (if you read on in the verses, you’d find out the “goats” or those on his left were cast out of God’s presence to spend eternity in hell).  I want to see those who are in need and not just have a bleeding heart for them, but to actually do something for them.  My pity doesn’t change their circumstances and my $5 doesn’t help a whole lot, but you know what?  It could buy that man some lunch or a couple bottles of water to keep him from becoming dehydrated in the miserably hot Florida summer.

So, today, I may not have had that conversation with the man on the side of the road, but I did give him the $5 I had in my pocket.  And maybe, just maybe, I got to see a glimpse of Jesus in the process.

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