Withholding Generosity 1
By Mike Stickler
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
The other day, I was walking through the streets of downtown with a group of lawyers. It was early morning and everyone had on business attire and power ties, ready for their day of battle in court. We took up most of the sidewalk as we walked two abreast, with our briefcases and computer bags. Walking toward us was a homeless man, dirty and half-shaven, carrying a backpack. As we approached one another, someone had to give way. So he stepped off the curb to give way so we could walk past him.
I looked at him, smiled, and said, “Good morning.” I don’t remember whether he responded or not, he was past us pretty quickly as we all continued walking on our ways. Quickly, the group got quiet—as I believe they fell under conviction to not only greet; but, to even see the man. The more senior and powerful of the attorneys looked at me and said, “Your empathy impresses me.” I explained that in the ’90’s I had worked these very streets with the homeless. I learned that most of them feel invisible and inferior to the rest of us. They are often the ones ‘giving way,’ as this one had. And not just to a small group such as ours; but, they would probably ‘give way’ even to a single person, walking alone, down the sidewalk.
Why? It’s because in our affluent, power-stratified society, the poor are less than all of the rest. Somehow in the back of our minds we (and they) believe they can’t make it. There is something wrong with them. They must be mentally ill. They smell. Or any of a million other labels we place on these people that position ourselves above them. Our affluence makes them give way. We make them feel invisible ... less than ... worth-less. We label them ‘less than’ so that WE don’t feel ‘less than.’ In order to manage our self-image in even brief interactions, we close our eyes to the human being in front of us. Yes, we do all of this—to the literal God-breathed man or woman for whom Jesus Christ died.
What greater value could any one of us have than to recognize that the generous Creator of the Universe gave His life for each of us?
Today's Generosity Challenge:
Through prayer, allow the Holy Spirit to examine your heart. Ask Him to reveal how you shut your eyes to the poor, how you make them give way, or label them to lift yourself up. Write down what He shows you here. Then ask the Lord to guide you before you again, unconsciously set someone apart from yourself.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column.