Opportunity Lost

Years ago, the pastor of my church preached a sermon on helping others. He challenged everyone in the congregation to carry a $20 bill in their wallet for the express purpose of helping someone in need without a moment’s notice. Several times since then my wife and I have purchased groceries for those ahead of us in the checkout line when they came up short or not having the money they needed to buy food for themselves and their children. It is not only a good thing to do, but you feel great doing it, and it’s much cheaper therapy than you can get from any psychologist.

Fast forward to today —

On many Friday mornings I have breakfast with some friends of mine. We used to go to the same church many years ago and we’ve been having these breakfasts for over 12 years. We casually refer to it as an “accountability” group but it’s really just a time Life–on–Life  to keep up with what’s going on in each others’ lives, challenges we might have, and things to pray for.

This morning as I was getting out of my truck, a man came up to me and stated he had been waiting there for two days for someone from Tucson to pick him up. He said he was hungry and asked if I would buy him breakfast stating it would only take about $3.00. Happy to do so, we walked toward the restaurant. He politely opened a door for me. We approach the counter and I told him, “Order whatever you want as much as you want.” He ordered, thanked me and left to sit down and eat and I sat with my friends. In retrospect I gave up two opportunities to “help in the harvest” and love someone the same way Christ would.

Firstly, when he thanked me, I had the opportunity to ask him to thank God as it was our Lord that provided the meal no me. Opportunity lost.

Secondly, I should have invited him to sit with Brian, Jim and me. He stated he had been waiting for two days outside and I’m sure it would’ve been enjoyable for him to sit with us (as doing so is often very entertaining). But I did not ask. I was too focused on doing what I wanted to do, catching up with my Christian brothers. While this may not seem to be a big thing to some, Christ commanded us to love one another as he loved us. Jesus would have sat with the man and spent time to talk with him, not ignore him as I did. Opportunity lost – make that wasted.

In our culture today we are busy at work, home and even at church we involve ourselves in activities doing what we think G_d needs us to do, while people all around us are “ripe and ready to be harvested.”  But I made no attempt reap even one of them, instead I merely wasted G_d’s time with my choices. Often we engage in activities are we think are important to Him instead of doing what he has already commanded we do in His word.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 1.30.04 PMLuke 14:12-14 (NASB) reads, “And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

You see buying this man breakfast then going my way may have blessed him in a small insiginificant way and curbed his hunger a short time, but that really required nothing of me personally. No risk or vulnerability was required, nor did I have any thought of this man’s eternity at that moment. G_d provided the money and the opportunity. What our Father in heaven really wanted from me was to step outside of my comfort zone and take time relate to one of His creation brought across my path. This would have required a minimal investment of time and effort on my part. But I was too stingy with my time and too self-absorbed to make even the smallest investment of myself.  Did I behave in such as way that he experienced his Creator’s love?  Assuredly not.

Note to self: When He provides the means, TAKE THE TIME.  Not doing so is shameful.

My friends, I encourage you to learn from my failure and strive to be more Christ-minded, weighing these opportunities in terms of eternity while living and loving in the moment. In doing so we can help in “the harvest” and honor His name. Time is running out, Christ is soon to return and I do not want to hang my head in shame because I gave up opportunities to care for and share His love for others, especially when He has provides everything needed to share His love.

So here is my challenge to you (and me). Keep that $20 bill handy and be watchful for those in need. Don’t respond as I did, but reach out with more than money. Invest yourself in others’ lives by sharing not only with your money but also your heart and time in the name of Christ. Doing so will bring you incredible joy, Christ will be honored, and you will be repaid in the “resurrection of the righteous.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me better respond to those in need and do so in the ways you would, especially when you have provided everything needed in that moment. Amen.

NOTE:  I don’t not give money to begging strangers on the corners of traffic intersections.  As someone with prior law enforcement experience this is not only a safety issue, but giving strangers money may be providing them with the means to buy illegal drugs supporting their addition.  This deprives them of the motivation they may need to get the help for their addition, keeping them trapped in a vicious cycle of dependency.  I will alway provide food when asked.

© David Hall, 2015

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