Poverty is something you can be born into, forced into by extreme conditions or reached by a series of bad decisions. Upon graduating from college, I went into social work. I spent two days a week as a youth director at a church in Rising Sun, Maryland and the rest of my time as a Program Coordinator for the Methodist Action Plan in the inner city of Wilmington, Delaware. I made just enough to eat and put gas in my car. To save money I slept on a couch in my sister’s basement for 6 months. Essentially, I was poor, unable to fulfill my goals in life on my own. When my church home Cornerstone heard of my plight, a love offering was taken prior to my departure for a youth ministry trade school. Without any previous conversation, this gift was exactly what I needed to attend this school.
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses, Proverbs 28:27.
A little over a year later, I remembered this act of generosity striving to pay it forward. Thus, when the church I was serving in turned away a homeless college student, I offered the couch in my apartment. Although, this was an inconvenience to me, the Bible instructs followers to lend a helping hand. I’m not sure if this lack of privacy led to my decision to leave youth ministry six months later, but I have become jaded. This negative experience has led me to become selfish, putting my family first. In the process, I have begun closing my eyes to the poor.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver, 2 Corinthians 9:7.
If acknowledging a flaw is the first step to recovery, then I must confess that I have turned a blind eye to the poor and needy. Instead of stopping to listen and lend a helping hand, I pretend that I don’t see those pandering at various intersections. The Lord has a firm warning to those who ignore the poor. Solomon suggests curses will follow those who continue to avoid the needy. May the Holy Spirit help people like me trying to break the bad habit of closing my eyes on the poor.
by Jay Mankus