I knew I shouldn’t have gone shopping. Spending money I didn’t need to spend, wasting my time, instead of doing something useful. I was leaving the store and was on my way back to my vehicle. That’s when she approached me: a woman who looked disheveled, standing right before me, imploring me with her eyes to take notice of her.
“Can I talk to you?” she asked me.
“Okay…” I answered wearily.
Her appearance kept me on alarm—dirty clothes and yellow teeth. I knew I was in a populated area and safety shouldn’t be an issue, but I always get nervous when I know someone is about to ask me for money. Her story was that she had come all the way into town to pick up somebody and didn’t have enough money for gas to get back to her house. I honestly looked at her in that moment and just wanted to be left alone. I wish I could say I was filled with compassion, but I wasn’t. I assumed her story was made up and that she probably did this to people all the time, or at the very least at least she had a car to drive. Nevertheless, guilt kicked in, and I hurriedly handed her $7 in cash from my wallet. She gratefully took the money, and we left each other’s presence. We knew why we were talking to each other – she needed money, and I needed her to leave me in the least guilty way as possible.
Later that day I thought, What if she went and bought drugs with that money? I could have directly funded her addiction. Did I do the right thing? Should I have engaged her longer in conversation? Should I not have given her money?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. But what I do know is that I did not follow God’s second most important command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
Whoever you are and wherever you may be, we have a commonality: we are God’s children. Let’s keep the gospel simple today. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s it. I said it was simple, not easy. We need to constantly pray for God to give us compassion for all of his children. To truly love God, we must also love his people.
Written by Alexa
This post continues part 1 of our 3-part series based on Matthew 22:36-40:
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.