I wasn’t planning on talking to anyone, but he made himself impossible to avoid. He laid on the sidewalk near the Dollar store entrance, his lighter and pack of Marlboros next to him. As I began to gag on second-hand smoke, he shot me a piece sign.
“Hey, man,” he asked, “Can you spare some money? Anything would help. I’m hungry.”
Living in New Orleans, my wife and I encounter the hungry and the homeless on an almost daily basis. We do try to help when we are able. However, something about the audacity of this man to beg for money as he blew smoke produced from his $5.44 pack of cigarettes pushed me across the line.
“Why don’t you trade your cigarettes for some food?” I asked.
“What?” he replied. “You want one?”
“Nevermind,” I said as I pushed past him and entered the store, shaking my head.
As I walked through the store in my self-righteousness, I prayed, “Can you believe that guy, Lord? He’s begging for food when he obviously has money for cigarettes.”
In that moment, I sensed the Lord speaking to me. “Do you mean you’ve never wasted the resources I’ve given you and then begged Me for help?”
Ouch. Gut punch. Game over. End of discussion.
I didn’t have much money, but I bought the guy a Snicker’s bar on my way out.
“The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7:2
*photo courtesy of Unsplash and Quinten-de-Graaf