50 Cents

15 Feb

She appeared from out of nowhere as we chatted happily and enjoyed our President’s Day lunch.

“Can I borrow fifty cents?” she questioned.

We looked up from our meal and saw her.

She stood there in mismatched clothes with a sad look on her face. She didn’t tell us what the money was for as she waited for our reply.

We reached for our purses amid shopping bags full of recent purchases. The two quarters she came seeking were located and after receiving them she turned to walk away.

Fifty cents doesn’t mean much to many of us. We often find loose change under the couch cushions, in the cup holders, or lying at the bottom of our purses. Her need was small so it wasn’t a hard choice to make. What’s fifty cents? We didn’t have to pretend not to see her or act like we didn’t hear her request. Her need was small so we didn’t hesitate to help, but I wonder what we would have done if her need was much greater?

I’ve been thinking about that tonight and it led me to the parable found in Luke’s gospel. Here we find a man with a need seemingly a little more severe than that of the woman whom we met in the Food Court today.

Bleeding and bruised, he lay “half dead” along the road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho. (Luke 10:30) Whatever business that awaited him in Jericho was going to have to wait because there was no way he was going to make it there anytime soon. I imagine he probably quietly prayed for help to come along as he winced, the painful wounds he received from his attacker’s hands causing great discomfort.

Just as he was about to give up hope, he saw a priest coming toward him. Breathing a sigh of relief, he smiled at the sight of the man he knew would give him the help he needed. But then it happened, the man turned to cross the road, passing “by on the other side.” (Luke 10:31)

I guess we’ll never know why the priest neglected to stop and I’m sure the injured man questioned that too, but maybe he had duties to take care of and didn’t have the time. Or maybe he was afraid to dirty his robe with the blood of this helpless man? We don’t know, but he must have viewed something as more important than lending a hand to a fallen brother.

Still discouraged and disappointed, he heard more footsteps. “Surely this man will help me,” he thought. Unlike the priest who merely saw him as he hurried on his way, this man paused for a moment and “looked on him.” (Luke 10:32) I’m sure he saw the pain in the injured man’s eyes as their gazes met, but he too “passed by on the other side.” (Luke 10:32)

I wonder tonight how many times I am like the priest and the Levite? Too many, I’m sure. I pass by a lost and dying world who need something that I have everyday. Sure, I notice them and recognize their need, but neglect to stop and aid their dying souls with the help and healing of the Gospel. Sharing the Gospel should be as simple as giving someone in need fifty cents. We know they need it. We know we have it. What’s standing in our way? Is it busyness? Are we too hurried to help? Is it that we are so focused on our own spiritual walk that we allow religion to crowd our relationship with Jesus and the reality He desires to be? Are we afraid we might get dirty?

 Thankfully this parable doesn’t end with the religious men who failed to assist the battered man who fell amongst thieves.

A third man came down the road that day and he chose not to pass by on the other side. He too journeyed and I’m sure had much to accomplish that day (Luke 10:33), but he didn’t let anything stop him from meeting this man’s need. He didn’t merely glance over at him only to walk away pretending not to see. He chose action. He chose compassion. He “went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” (Luke 10:33-35) He chose to give what he could.

Today as we offered the woman the change she desired, we did a good thing, but if we let her walk away with only the money, we were no better than the priest and the Levite. Sure we may have met the physical need, but she would’ve walked away with a spiritual need unaddressed. You see her need wasn’t much different than the injured man by the roadside.

Handing her a Gospel tract, I prayed she would realize this great need, one greater than the fifty cents she was lacking.

 I was reminded that everyday we have a choice to make.

 Will we be the priest who is too busy with our Christian life that we neglect to share the Christ we’re trying so hard to live for?

 Or the Levite who makes eye contact, maybe even offers a smile only to walk away before offering true assistance?

 Or will we seek to be a Samaritan offering more than fifty cents, in offering Jesus to a hurting and hopeless world?

I want to be the latter. How about you?

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One Response to “50 Cents”

  1. Emily February 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    I love reading this blog! God always uses it to challenge my heart. Thank you for sharing.

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