Enter any city in this world, and you are bound to find homeless people. It doesn’t matter if it is a world center like New York or Paris or Dehli, or a tiny town like the one we live in: There are people who live in the streets. Some are old, some are young, and some are just children. Many are sick or lame, and some are drug addicts or alcoholics; but some, as is the case in New York City, actually may have jobs! It is simply that they don’t make enough money to eat AND have a home, and they often choose eating over having a roof over their heads.
This is a sad state of the world, in my opinion; but this devotional isn’t about motivating us to get these people off the streets. Rather, it is about an inspiration that can be found there, one that should shame us all. This inspiration has a name, I’m sure, but I don’t know what it is. This inspiration comes in the shape of an old man in ragged clothes. He has a scruffy beard and wrinkled skin. But most importantly, this homeless inspiration has a heart that is bigger than those found in most of the rest of us…
This man visits the flower stalls at the local market every evening at closing time and collects flowers that were left over from the market. He then proceeds to go around the busy streets handing out flowers to passersby.
Can you imagine? I mean, most of us have been brainwashed into thinking that we need to give plenty of distance to the homeless people. We are programmed to think that they all beg. We are certainly not programmed to think that a homeless person would ever go out of their way to … give … something to someone else! Yet here is this inspiration in scruffy clothes, in the streets of an undisclosed city, giving away flowers…
It makes you think, doesn’t it?
First of all, it makes us think about our own motivations. Here we sit, most of us in what the world would consider a “privileged” category of people, yet aren’t most of us more concerned about survival than about making other people happy? We may have the basic necessities, yet we’re always wanting more; and our striving for more and more makes us forget the important things in life: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV). We, the world’s privileged, have forgotten to love! With “getting” being our priority, there is no room to love as we have been loved! What a valuable lesson we can learn from this old, wrinkled, dirty homeless man, who, although he has nothing, makes giving flowers out of love his priority!
The second thing this should make us think of is our tendency to stereotype! We all have stereotypes of the homeless — hey, we all have stereotypes of most people who are different from us! But are these stereotypes accurate? When we see someone who is homeless, for example, our automatic go-to is that they are alcoholic or drug addicts. This one homeless man with his bundle of flowers makes us realize that our stereotypes are, indeed, not always true! Jesus tells us not to judge. He even goes so far as to tell us that we will be judged in the same way that we judge others! “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2 NKJV). What a valuable lesson to be learned from this dirty, scruffy flower-bearer!
The next time you see someone who is homeless — hey! The next time you see anyone — remember to not judge them. Don’t assume they fit your stereotype. Instead, show them the love that Jesus asks us to show all of humanity — The same sacrificial love He showed us at the cross!
Oh, and the next time a homeless person comes up and hands you a flower, don’t turn away! Accept it! And maybe think about taking that homeless person for a coffee and a hot lunch!
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries