Yesterday was parents’ evening at our eldest daughter’s school. During a break between appointments, we walked down to the local shop for a drink – I had come straight from a work meeting and our daughter had stayed on from school. As we approached there was an older man sat on the pavement outside the shop asking for spare change. I literally had none since I was heading for the ATM machine in the wall, where a younger man sat, also asking for change. I gave nothing to either man and we headed into the shop.
As we went round, selecting cookies and drinks, my daughter began talking of homeless people needing to help themselves and how they’ll probably spend it on cigarettes or alcohol. I said little in response because in my mind I kept seeing the old man. As we came out the shop, heading back to the school, I gave a coin to the old man.
Typically, I don’t give anything to people begging on the street though I recognise one must have little other options at that point. I haven’t, consciously, made any judgement on what they may or may not spend the money on. It is simply a case of my own perception of me and my family. I feel we have sufficient for our needs, but not an excess. Apart from a few days at the temple over the last few years, we’ve never been on holiday together. All the children have had to wait for new school shoes at some time, including this year and we’ve all worn clothes from the charity shops. I do pay my tithes, fast offerings and donate to other humanitarian funds which support people all over the world. I guess I have justified not giving away more because we don’t have a whole lot in the first place.
After parents’ evening, we walked back past the shop, back past the old man, who was now smoking, who did not ask for money. He recognised us by asking for no more than a brief smile.
As I’ve thought on this brief experience last night, and pondered why I felt impressed to give when so many times I haven’t, I have been taught, and I hope I am humble enough to learn and make a difference to my actions and motivation in the future.
The Saviour’s observation of the widow giving her ‘mite’ came to mind, Mark 12 verse 44:
For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
So, I may not have abundance, but I do have more than some and when we truly serve others, maybe it should stretch us.
Also, King Benjamin’s beautiful sermon on how we should serve, including towards others, Mosiah 4 verse 19
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have,…
I do rely upon our Father, I do cry for help and forgiveness and I feel he was teaching me that I can do more, I can be a better rescuer 🙂