One evening Vince was mugged while traveling through a rough neighborhood. The attacker took all of Vince’s money only to beat him and leave him for dead. The night was cold and temperatures were expected to dip into the teens.
Two cars passed. Each driver saw Vince lying on the pavement but neither would leave the comfort of their car to help him. Maybe they were in a hurry. Maybe they just thought somebody else would help.
Then Richie drove down the street. He was on his way home to have dinner with his family but an accident had forced him to take a different route. Seeing the injured man, he immediately stopped his car and went to him.
Richie grabbed his phone, prepared to call for help when he saw he had no cell reception. So, he did the first thing he could think of. He gently carried Vince and put him in the passenger seat of his car. Then he drove to a local hospital and stayed until Vince’s family arrived to look after him. Richie missed dinner with his own family. But when he explained the reason, his family was happy that Richie had made the sacrifice.
Like the Good Samaritan, Richie did a lot more than exercising awareness that he needed to help someone in distress. He made the act of giving personal by giving of his time and his energy, not just his money. Sometimes, when you see a need, it’s easy to throw money at it. But it’s a different kind of sacrifice to give of your time and energy.
My children’s school supports our local drop-in shelter. Each class takes turns bringing in the food to provide a dinner for the residents. When I heard that we were providing dinner, I was very excited to support this effort. The children and I took the food to the shelter expecting to spend about an hour preparing the meal and serving the residents. But we were shocked to find out that the established procedure was for the families to drop the food off and leave. I was sorely disappointed. This is the difference between what is often called (erroneously) “social justice” and true charity.
True charity isn’t just a gift. It’s a gift of self. Often, it involves setting aside your plans for the day or evening. Maybe your child had a rough day at school and needs to talk. Perhaps your friend was injured and needs someone to run errands for her. Challenge yourself to a Good Samaritan to someone in need today.
God, help me find little ways to give back to others. I want to cheer up those around me who might be having a bad day.