How many times have you been overwhelmed walking through the city and found yourself thinking this? What am I supposed to do when I walk past a person on the streets? If I give them money, how do I know they won't spend it on drugs or cigarettes? I can't possibly give them something every time, there are just too many. How many times has someone on the streets approached you and you have ignored them? Who are we to assume that they don't deserve our time, love or attention, when we fail to understand what they are dealing with. We do not know them, so how can we come to the conclusion that if we give them money that they will not use it in the way we hope? God puts people in our way. When these thoughts cause doubts in your mind, my advice is, err on the side of love and it doesn't matter what happens after that.
It's very common to have these thoughts. I know I have had these thoughts many times but since travelling through the Philippines and returning to Australia, my reaction to these thoughts have changed. For me, Sirach 4: 1-10 has become a guideline and support when confronted or in doubt.
My child, do not cheat the poor of their living,
and do not keep needy eyes waiting.
Do not grieve the hungry,
or anger one in need.
Do not add to the troubles of the desperate,
or delay giving to the needy.
Do not reject a suppliant in distress,
or turn your face away from the poor.
Do not avert your eye from the needy,
and give no one reason to curse you;
for if in bitterness of soul some should curse you,
their Creator will hear their prayer.
Endear yourself to the congregation;
bow your head low to the great.
Give a hearing to the poor,
and return their greeting politely.
Rescue the oppressed from the oppressor;
and do not be hesitant in giving a verdict.
Be a father to orphans,
and be like a husband to their mother;
you will then be like a son of the Most High,
and he will love you more than does your mother.
A group of friends and I were making our way to McDonalds, in the Philippines when we were approached one day by a 15 year old boy, RV. Cigarette in hand "Where are you going?" to which we invited him to join us for ice cream. Along our walk we managed to accumulate more and more children until that list of questions started rolling in my head: "How many kids will turn up? Should I only buy ice cream for RV?" In that moment of doubt, God said to me "Focus on what I have presented you with now, not what will come." I remembered to always err on the side of love.
It was worth it! The greatest moment was seeing a boy with the biggest smile on his face dragging his little sister behind him through sheer excitement and joy. That's who God placed in my way. That's what acknowledging what God called me to do in that moment accomplished. Even if we give to someone in need and it doesn't turn out how you perceived it would, who cares? You did what God called you to do, erring on the side of love. It's all in God's hands and He will do what He pleases with what you gave Him!
Mel is passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with young people. She is part way through studying Primary Education and gets a lot of life out of journeying with others. After spending a year on mission with NET Australia, she is excited to find herself leading Marist Youth Ministry in Melbourne, Adelaide & Perth this year.