I make it a practice to NOT brag about my giving. Not that I never do it, and certainly when I do it, I use a pseudonym so as to minimize the self-aggrandizement. But today I gave some coats and blankets to some homeless people in the park. This just before the next cold snap sets in tonight.
The thing that prompts my post tonight, though, is that I am so pleased to say I ENABLED these nice people with my giving! Yes, I ENABLED THEM. They are now ENABLED to keep warm – warmer than they would have been, especially since two of them had no kind of coat or outer covering at all.
But I was warned just a few minutes before I gave them away not to give them to people who don’t really need them. (Yeah, and it was a fellow needy person who warned me. (Jealous???)) Some of these bums, it is said, will sell them instead of keep them. And being duly warned, I promptly gave them to the people I met a few minutes later in the park.
Now… I could have quizzed them, I guess.
Me: “You do really NEED this coat, right? You aren’t gonna run down the street and sell it, get some money and buy dope are you???”
Them: “Ahhh… No sa, Massah. We not gonna sell dem coats fa dope. No sa! No. We really need dem.”
Me: “Whew! Good. Cuz I was warned not to give them to the undeserving kind of needy people! I am so glad you aren’t like that.”
Yeah. I am sure that would settle it.
Of course I could, conceivably, take these coats down to Lubbock’s Premier Homeless Pseudo “Church” (not it’s real name) and let the professionals hand them out to the good needy people. But no. No, those are the folks who banned me from the premises when I insisted that we keep the door open on cold winter nights to let these needy people in. So, really, that wouldn’t work on two counts: 1) I am not welcome there to begin with, and 2) I don’t think keeping people warm is their real priority anyway.
So, I just TRUSTED that these coats would meet the needs of some obviously needy people. (Actually, I know one of these people personally already, and whether she would sell it or use it or give it to someone in worse need, I cannot say. But I know her to be needy either way.) Oh, and they were grateful, thanking me over and over.
And so I gave to Jesus clothes when he was naked. I did that. And it ENABLES the poor to the chagrin of my white, middle-class, church friends. But SO WHAT? I care far more about what Jesus says than what they say – especially when they contradict!
Thus I brag on it. I want my church friends to know that I ENABLED some cold people today with needed coats.
Oh, and while I was with them, they repeatedly asked me when I would come back to party with them on the streets. (I have responsibilities with foster babies that precludes me from doing this much, but I do when I can.) And that lets me know that they remember the RELATIONSHIP they have with me, the friend that points them to Jesus with a worship celebration of HIS IMAGE that THEY BEAR whether they sell the coats or keep them.
I hope that in bragging on this, some of my white, middle-class, church friends will rethink all their rethinking about charity and just seek shalom without stopping the meeting of needs (as if that makes any sense).