James 2:15-16 (NIV)
15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
A poor vagabond, traveling a country road in England, tired and hungry, came to a roadside inn with a sign reading: "George and the Dragon." He knocked.
The innkeeper's wife stuck her head out a window. "Could ye spare some victuals?" He asked. The woman glanced at his shabby clothes and obviously poor condition. "No!" She said rather sternly.
"Could I have a pint of ale?" "No!" She said again.
"Could I at least sleep in your stable?" "No!" By this time, she was fairly shouting.
The vagabond said, "Might I please...?" "What now?" The woman interrupted impatiently.
"D'ye suppose," he asked, "I might have a word with George?"
Is it possible that people around us who are in need view us as a "dragon" because of our callous indifference to their plight? Oh, I know, I know. I'm sure many of you did what I did a few weeks ago at Thanksgiving. As you sat down to a sumptuous feast, you offered up a prayer to God for those "less fortunate." But did you actually do anything to help anyone?
We live in a time when it's easy to be suspicious. There are some who refuse to work, preferring to live off the government and charitable organizations. There are some who seem to take joy in seeing how much they can get from naïve souls willing to believe their concocted "sob stories." But, there are also many around us in genuine need, and if we're not careful, we can come across to them like the woman above -- indifferent and uncaring.
The scriptures have much to say about our attitude toward those in need. In fact, Jesus said that will be one factor which determines where we will spend eternity (Matthew 25:31-46). May we be known not only as a people who care, but as a people whose concern is shown through our actions.
Take a minute today to reach out to someone with love today rather than respond like a dragon.
Dear Lord, help our hearts be open today. Give us a spirit of discernment when those in need come to us. Help us be loving to them in our response. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.