Dolly greeted me from her usual spot across the street from the courthouse. “Hey, how you doing?”
“Good,” I said. “On my way to get coffee. Had breakfast yet?”
She pointed to a slumped over plastic bag on the ledge next to her. “Got my Pringles,” she said with her almost-toothless smile.
I went on to the coffee shop hoping their day-old basket hadn’t emptied out yet. There were three scones left and I scooped them up and asked the cashier to put them in a bag as I ordered my coffee.
Dolly was still there on the ledge by the post office. I knew she would be.
“Thought you all might get hungry again.” By “all” I meant Dolly and her boyfriend Tex and their friend Kevin. These three folks are always ready with a good word for whoever passes by. She nodded her thanks and put the scones next to the can of chips.
“Say hi to the guys for me,” I said as I crossed back over to the courthouse.
“I will.” I could hear the smile in her voice while I kept my eyes on the traffic.
Not The Time For A Lecture
A couple of years ago a team of three young pastors started a new blog. They were eager, they were earnest, and they were woefully lacking in experience.
One day they wrote an article on how to help the poor: either confine it to those who are already believers or couple it with evangelism if the poor people are not Christians. They insisted that any other assistance to the poor is not only prohibited by Scripture, but that it is sinful and a waste of God’s riches.
I left a comment pushing back on this a bit and they got even more insistent. Giving to the non-Christian poor without also engaging in evangelistic efforts violates Scripture, they kept saying. God won’t hold us accountable for letting people go hungry, they continued, because he expects us to restrict our charity.
In essence, “Let them starve.”
I stopped reading that blog.
It’s not that I think they’re wrong merely because I find their position repugnant. I do find it repugnant, but that is not the right test. The right test is Scripture, and that’s where they went wrong.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:7-10, emphasis added.)
Paul begins this passage with a warning about mocking God, and then goes on to discuss generous charity. He notes that we especially should not ignore the needs of fellow Christians, but the mockery of God also occurs if we ignore the needs of non-believers. What else could “all people” mean in this context?
Jesus earlier explained why hospitality is to be shared freely:
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44-45.)
Jesus didn’t say we should care for others only if they are fellow Christians. He didn’t say we should care for non-Christians only if we are evangelizing them. He said we should bless everybody because that’s what our heavenly Father does and as his children we should do the same. It’s a blessing we get to share.
So apparently God is pleased to shower his blessings on those who belong to him and on those who do not, and Jesus said we should do the same because we are his children.
And sometimes we get to do it three scones at a time.