Another red light experience (Gift Cards #14-16)

Trip Start Aug 21, 2010
Trip End Dec 31, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Sunday, December 5, 2010

Before heading to our hotel for Sunday night, we chose to soak up some more time in Burlington, Mass. Our location this weekend was perfect, and we enjoyed all of our favorite amenities being within a mere mile from our hotel. To put the "amen" in amenities, we attended church at Heritage Park Baptist Church, only 0.7 miles away.

We thoroughly enjoyed this church. We were warmly welcomed from the time we first entered. Christmas carols were being sung when we slipped into the back pew. A lady in the pew in front of us noticed us come in and gave us her hymnal opened to the proper page.How thoughtful!
The sermon was based on the wise men, with the general premise of "Wise Men Still Seek Him." It was a solid message, each of the points had enough content to be its own sermon. All things considered, we decided that we might be regular attenders if we lived in Burlington! This weekend was very nice. On our way out of church, we thanked the pastor, and picked up a few tracts from the lobby on our way out.

On our way to lunch, we once again found ourselves first in line at a red light. To our left stood a man wearing a worn, torn plaid jacket. He was holding a beaten-up cardboard sign which read, "2 children. Need work. Any thing helps. God bless."

We called him over and gave him one of our newly-acquired tracts along with 3 cards--two for Walmart, one for McDonald's.

"Thank you so much, God bless!"

I entertained the idea that perhaps that guy wasn't genuinely in need. I mean, anybody can buy an old jacket at Goodwill, rip a hole in it, stomp on a piece of cardboard, write something about children and God on it, and stand on the corner making a pretty good side income. Not long ago, that line of thinking would have probably given me reason to rationalize away any thoughts of giving. But we've retrained our minds to view the situation differently.

Be discerning, but err on the side of generosity.

When you give to the apparent needy, God will reimburse you and give you increase. Whether or not the person was actually needy is irrelevant. If they are being dishonest, God will judge them. That is not our responsibility. If someone is exploiting your generosity, I guarantee God is not looking at you saying, "Aw, man! You just got taken! You really should have been a little more discerning about that one!" No. At the end of time, I'd rather God take me by the hand and show me the people who took advantage of my kindness than show me all the people I ignored who really did need my help.

"And Mike," you may ask, "You gave him three gift cards? Wasn't that a little much just for a guy at a traffic light?"

Why not? It's also not our job to determine how much a person deserves. We went with the information that was given. He said he had children. Walmart and McDonalds can go a long way when providing for kids. Acting off of what information we're given is the best we can do. Remember, be discerning, but err on the side of generosity. It's a very freeing philosophy knowing that God is faithful to reward based on our hearts, not those of other people.
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