13 Envelopes – A Challenge for a Loving, but Awkward, Heart

I grew up with a family that was very charitable. My Granny, the oldest in the family that I ever knew, believed firmly in the philosophy of Matthew 25:34-40, that being that the Lord wants us to help those that are put in our path.

Here’s my challenge… Sometimes it’s awkward to give to the homeless that you see on the street. I get that. Maybe it’s even a little scary.

Here’s my solution: Take $40. Split it into 13 envelopes (colored ones preferably), and maybe add a few pieces of candy. You can even add a little note if you like. Keep them in your car under the seat or in the cubby or glove compartment. Maybe keep a couple in your purse if you live in a place like New York where you mostly walk.

That’s it. Then, when you see a homeless person, you just have to hand them an envelope. No scrambling in your purse or wallet before the light changes, no looking away because it’s uncomfortable and you don’t feel like making the effort.

Obviously, if you can spare more, then put more in the envelope. If you can spare less, then do less or make just 7 envelopes. The point is, be prepared with an on-the-spot solution when you see someone in need.

Moving to Florida, we discovered loads of homeless people – I mean there are homeless people everywhere. It isn’t because there’s anything in Florida that particularly causes it, it’s because it’s warm enough here that a homeless person can actually not freeze to death on a park bench come winter time. From what I understand, some homeless people actually migrate down here for that reason and the hopes they can find a job in the tourism industry.

There’s a lot of attitude about them sometimes, largely people saying that they are choosing to live like that. I think it’s because it makes people uncomfortable. It’s hard to enjoy your luxurious day at the beach when you see someone with no food and you’re about to spend $50 on dinner. Here’s the thing: Being homeless could literally happen to anyone. That’s just how I see it. You might be knocking down $100k a year now, but that could change in a heartbeat. If Covid-19 and the Recession of ’06 should have taught people anything, it should be that your financial well-being is tentative at best. Think of that spiral that could send you down in to being homeless and the fact that once you’re there, it’s a tough road to climb out.

Now, I’m not saying that some do not choose to be homeless. Some do. There’s some people that are homeless that will flat out tell you they chose it. It’s freedom. However, I don’t think most do.

Most importantly in the concept here is that it isn’t my place to determine whether or not they are choosing their situation or if they deserved it. It’s not my job to decide if they are addicted to drugs and if they are it isn’t my position to judge them for it. I don’t know their walk. My job is the fact that they were put in my path to help and they were put in yours too.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (NIV)

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