I’ve had Matthew 25:35-40 rolling around in the back of my mind for a little while now, and as I’ve thought about what Jesus said, the thing that has stuck out to me over and over is what He said that His Faithful did – they gave food and drink and clothing and shelter and compassion. And then I think about our culture and what we give – money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to give money to help others. But we need to make sure that we’re mindful of the reason we’re doing so.
When we give money, it’s quick and easy. Five minutes writing the check and it’s over, and we go back to our lives. What’s more important is what we’re not giving when we do that – ourselves. When we write the check, when we put the change in the cup, we’re isolating ourselves from others, depriving them of that they need most.
If you look at scripture, at the early church, the thing we’re called to isn’t charitable donations, it’s community – interacting with each other, loving each other, caring for one another. We need that, and God knows that we do – after all, we are created in His image. He is a God of community, and He knows that we need it as well. It’s the big thing that was so attractive to people about the early Church – the unity, compassion, sharing – community.
I’ve never experienced this more tangibly than when I was in Chicago several years ago. As I got off of the bus to walk to my friends’ apartment, a homeless man was sitting nearby. As I walked past him, he yelled after me, “Hey! It doesn’t cost anything to talk!” Those words have echoed through my mind ever since. It doesn’t cost anything to talk. What he was basically saying was – I don’t care about your money. What I really need is someone to talk to, someone to validate my existence, someone to sit down next to me and let me know that I’m alive. I’m a human being just like you.
In reality though, it does cost something to talk. It costs ourselves – the most precious thing we can give to someone else.