Rise and Shine! On the Needy
BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com
- For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command you, saying, you shall open your hand wide unto your brother, to your poor, and to your needy, in your land. Deuteronomy 15:11 (KJV)
Does HaShem consider the ways in which we interact (or do not interact) with those around us in need? Absolutely, He does! Check this out…
- Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. Ezekiel 16:50 (KJV)
Chances are, you already know someone who is needy. Struggling. Trying, but never seeming to get their head “above water” or keep it there if they do. Or maybe, you have “risen” in life to a point where you don’t even cross paths with the needy on a personal level. In that case, you’ll have to expand your vision to beyond it’s normal range of view. The needy are in every city, even if not in our own community. They are at the market, putting things back at the register because they miscounted, and can’t pay the total. They are at the gas station, digging under floor mats and in the cracks of the seat for enough change to fuel up. They are at the laundromat with toddlers, using half the recommended soap to conserve. They are buying from the dollar menu, trying to create a sense of being able to afford the treat of dining out. They are eating bologna, because the electric was cut off, and they can’t cook. If you don’t know a needy person, and are uncomfortable interacting with strangers, you can expand your vision even further, and find an organization in your community dedicated to helping the needy. Get with them, they will help you find a way to help. By far, up-close and personal interaction with the needy is the most enriching experience, but in whatever capacity we can extend our hand, HaShem commands us to do it! Don’t neglect, though, to shine The Father’s light while you are helping! Help without love and compassion knocks a needy person down a level, further from HaShem, instead of helping them up, a little closer to Him. This I know from experience, for I have been needy. I’ve been knocked further down and lifted up, both. The difference was in the giver.
As believers, we should be the ones in any given situation shining light! When I was a server, long before I walked with The Father, Sunday morning shifts were the worst! My customers were in a hurry to get to morning services, and were, in short, some of the rudest people I waited on all week. On more than one occasion, I could be found crying in the walk-in cooler from trying to please unpleasable people. My tips were also lowest for a Sunday breakfast shift. Sadly, the local biker club was my only hope for a good money Sunday. Loud and crude, often hung-over, this group of people joked with me, were polite and patient, and left more per person than I have ever had rivaled in my serving days. I may not be a server now that I’m amongst the “Saturday” people, but I do notice their posts and comments, as well as their “likes”. It’s clear to see this is not a “Sunday” people problem, only. It’s a “Child of God” problem. I can not count the times that, as an atheist, I looked at a believer and thought, “If this is “God” I don’t want Him” Quite the opposite should be true, don’t you think? Our light should be shining in a way that makes others think, “If that’s “God” I want Him!” Remember, the first things we should be giving to the needy, as well as everyone we see, is dignity, respect and God’s Light. That opens a path for us to perceive their need, and shine as much light on it as we can.
If you decided to help through a local organization, may HaShem bless your every endeavor! Your help is much needed and appreciated, you are making a difference! If you decided to look around on your own for needs you can fill, ways that you can extend your hand, even if you have little yourself, here are some helpful hints:
*Remember, before we can go about shining The Father’s Light, we have to be sure our connection is viable! We must first get connected through Prayer and Scripture and address any needed repentance. Next, we remember that He is our source, and give due reverence for that. If we ask Him to fill us with His Light to share, He is faithful to do it! Now, we are ready to shine.
- Do remember you are shining light or casting shadows with your smile, your countenance, your words and your intonation. Always be kind. Always make eye contact. Always listen if someone needs an ear. Everyone has a story, and aches for it to be shared. Too many people feel invisible, like they have fallen through the cracks of our “acceptable” society. Open your eyes carefully and see them, they will notice! We must always be generous with whatever resource we have to share, especially our kindness!
- Do not be condescending. Do not be nosy. Do not think you can imagine where they are in their life if you have never been there. Do not tell them what they need. We can ask them, but we cannot tell them. Do not insist on “Praying” over them, with them, or for them! We can offer or ask if they’d like us to, but we must not assume anything about anyone.
- Do give from more than your left overs. If you’re giving a food basket, add a little treat. It may not seem like much to you, but when grocery money is slim, snacks, fresh fruits and things like nuts (which are expensive) are out of the question. If you are passing along clothing, throw in the outfit you bought on clearance two years ago and never wore. To someone with a zero clothing budget, receiving something with a tag still on feels like a birthday gift!
- Do Not give food that is expired, or with compromised packaging. Like-wise with clothing, do not give stained, ripped or zipperless and buttonless items. Give shoes in pairs. You wouldn’t think I’d have to add that, would you? Yet, it has happened to me. One shoe. But I digress. What we give others carries with it our opinion of them. If our giveaways are from the bottom of our “barrel” the message we are conveying is “This wasn’t good enough for me, but it’s good enough for you.”
- Do, when making “care packages” remember that hygiene products are also slim pickings in a household with great need. Sanitary products, toilet tissue, and tooth paste are very helpful items, as well as laundry soap. Even cleaning products can be too expensive when one is living in the clutches of poverty. If you’re not sure what someone needs specifically, and are not comfortable asking, gift cards are wonderful tools! They are also easy to pass along with little fanfare, something that can feel embarrassing for some recipients. Personal hygiene products are equally hard to come by, if not more so, for the homeless. If you are passing products to them, remember to include things that they can use with minimal amenities. Wet-wipes and mouth-wash are great things to include! Keep their uncommon needs and unique problems in mind when giving. There is a plethora of helpful ideas online!
- Do Not ever “toot your own horn”! The recipient doesn’t need reminded, and bragging about our humble alms is anything but humble.
- Do remember that the smallest things can be a huge uplift of spirit! I knew a woman who carried little “angel” statues in her car to pass out when she met someone who seemed to need a lift. I also knew a recipient of one of those statues. “Goth” in appearance, broken by her upbringing and atheist in her views, this young woman set that statue up in her dining room to remind herself every day that somebody noticed her! Just recently, a dear friend sent me a necklace and matching earrings, something I have never had. It made me feel like a princess! We may not be able to solve someone’s life problems, but we can certainly shine light into their storms!
- Do Not try to force your beliefs on anyone.
- Do tip! The service industry contains many people giving their maximum for a minimum return. Hourly wages are low, and tips aren’t consistent. Often, my weekly paycheck was under an hundred dollars. The tips were it. Be generous with kindness and your tip to waiters and waitresses, paper boys and taxi-drivers, bartenders and hotel maids, your hair-dresser or barber, food delivery workers and valets. I know I missed people on this list. If you’re not sure if tipping is appropriate for a service you are receiving, do some research before the service is rendered or inquire at the time of said service. Then, give more than the recommended minimum! HaShem will see to it that you do not go without because of it. Come to think of it, though, going without so someone else can go with is even a more precious gift!
- Do Not make a scene about giving for recognition from men, or even for the “Thank you!” of the recipient. The money in our hand belongs to HaShem, if we belong to HaShem. All “Thank Yous” belong to Him, as well.
- Do give to beggars, and to those who ask you. Period.
- Do Not think it is ours to decide who “deserves” it. The Father knows any needy person’s story from beginning to end. We only see what is before us. If you would have known me in my 20’s, lying and cheating and stealing, while denying the One True God, you may well would have deemed me “unworthy”. You would not have been wrong, I was. But friends, even then, HaShem (who also knew my whole story) deemed me “worthy” and was my Provision. He sent me people like those bikers, who had no religion, but a spark from the Divine in them, nonetheless. He sent me older women, to set examples of “mothering” for me. And He sent a few precious believers before me back then that stand out in my memory as “Light“. They were the ones that simply loved me, right where I was. By not making me feel like I was less than them, they were the only ones that made me wonder if “God” just might be what was missing in my life, even if only briefly. Seeds were being planted. Likewise, we plant seeds of light. Give and pray for watering to come.
- Do receive with grace when it is your time of need. For everything, there is a season. If you haven’t been in a season of need before, one surely lies ahead! It is pride that makes us feel uncomfortable. If someone extends a hand to us to fill a need or uplift us in any way, we must see deeper and know that it is HaShem behind the gesture, providing for us through others. Accept the gesture in gratitude and love.
- Do Not rob the giver of the reward HaShem has in store for their gracious and giving hearts. A sincere “Thank you!” is sufficient, and sometimes even tears of joy come, too! That’s okay. We must learn to accept graciously, as well as give graciously. They are both factors in the complete circle of life. Giving and receiving, when moving on behalf of The Father, are really quite similar!
If you’re in the position to help in a huge way, and The Father sets people before you needing that kind of help, by all means, do it! Pay a utility bill, donate a car. Set up a food distribution post. Send a young person to college or trade school. House someone. When we have a heart to give, HaShem is generous in providing the opportunity to do so! But remember, only the things we give through shining His Light will become seeds in the unseen realm. Don’t think if you can’t give big you can’t give! Nothing we offer is small in the eyes of The Father. It is on us to seek out the needy and extend our hand. It is His way, and a command. Let’s start giving as we shine His Light today!