Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life Lessons at the Gas Station

While pumping gas yesterday, I was approached by a man asking for money. He had an elaborate and compelling story about how he’d ended up
stranded and in desperate need of $26 for cab fare. I had the money,
but I was about 90% sure he was lying, so I turned him away. I'd
heard the stories before.

As he walked away, an elderly black man at the next pump asked me how
much he’d asked for. “Twenty-six dollars.” To my surprise, the
elderly man got out his wallet, ran after the guy, and gave him the
money. I was shocked that this man could be so naive! The old man was
was clearly from a poor neighborhood, so surely he'd been heard these stories before too.

When he came back, the old man told me about the Parable of the Wheat
and the Tares (weeds), and how God says to allow the good and the
wicked to grow together because you can’t always tell them apart
until the harvest (judgment day). The old man wasn't naive after all.
He simply chose to help the guy based on his understanding of that

I left convicted. Even if there was a 90% chance the guy was lying,
then there was at least a 10% chance I’d just turned away a man in
genuine need. Why? Because I’m too proud to let myself be taken
advantage of? The amount was not significant to me, so there can be
no other explanation. I think the old man at the pump may have
forever changed my perspective.

"Whatever you do unto the least of these..." Jesus teaches that whatever we do to a person in need, we essentially do to him. Did I really risk a 10% chance of turning away my Savior for the sake of my pride and twenty-six