Spare change?

6 May

Today while driving home from work, I saw a man standing in the median with a sign asking for money. He was on the other side of the road facing away from me, but I’ve seen him before. He has one leg, and stands with a crutch, but you can see his wheelchair across the road. I don’t know what his story is. I don’t know what his problems are. I don’t know anything about him except that he is seeking money.

Everyone has their own ideas about giving to beggars on the street. Some people feel they should help if they can, because they have sufficient for their needs, and they want to share. Others, convinced that the money will not be used for good, look the other way, and refuse to give. Wherever we stand on the issue, we will, from time to time, have the opportunity to evaluate our decision. Every city, every town, everywhere we go, there are unfortunate people who beg for money.

Whether or not to give money to these people is a personal choice. If we decide to give, we are offering a blessing. We are extending our hands to help. We are being charitable. The decision of what happens with the gift after it is given belongs to the person who receives it. If it is used for good – the decision is on them. If it is used for other things – the decision is on them as well. They are accountable for what they do with the gift, not us. We are accountable only for offering the gift. Anytime we are charitable and kind, anytime we offer assistance, anytime we help in any way, we are blessed. Our decision is noble. It is worthy, and it is selfless. And our decision is the only one we answer for.

I keep five dollars in the ashtray of my car to use if the opportunity arises where I may give to someone in need. Since I don’t smoke, the ashtray has been used for nothing else. The money is there, and ready if I feel prompted to help when I see someone asking. Sometimes I get a feeling that it’s not the time, and I wait. Other times, the five dollars is theirs. As it passes hands, I always bless the person and wish them well, and without exception, they return the blessing back to me. Most of the time as I drive away I have to choke back tears, not because I’m sad, but because I realize, again, how much I have.

Today if you see someone seeking help, asking for money, think about where you stand. Remember, the gift, if you offer it, is your blessing to them. What they do from there is their decision. But the blessing remains as a testament to your kindness and charity. And the world certainly needs more of those. If you aren’t the one out on the street begging, no matter what the circumstances are, your life is better than theirs. Don’t forget that.

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