Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Bible, a Bowl of Soup, and the Myth About Good People

The weather was cold. I mean really cold. And we were rushing down the sidewalk back to our hotel where we were going to pack up and leave when a lady rushed up to my side.

She touched my arm to grab my attention and immediately I noticed that she was poor. Or at least she looked poor, a little shabby, probably didn't have a home, and she might not have eaten in a while. I didn't know. I still don't know.

But what matters is that she looked up at me and asked for some money. You know how it is. There's a pause - and in that moment you have to make a decision. Am I going to help her or not?

And so right then and there on the cold sidewalk I made an important decision, reached in my pocket, and pulled out my small bible. I quickly asked if she had ever read the bible and she shook her head. Letting her know I still cared, I slipped the bible into her hands and rushed off down the street.
That's the last time I saw her. To this day I don't know if she ever read the bible... but that's not what haunts me.

Today I am plagued with another question.

What if that was my personal-all-marked-up-soft-goatskin-leather-cover-treasured-friend bible? 

What if that was the bible I had in my hand instead of the little one I was wanting to replace anyways?

Suddenly all my thoughts of righteousness are ground in the dust (where the should be in the first place) and I recognize that I can give without loving. And sometimes it's easy to give because it's the right thing to do and it doesn't really affect us that much.

In fact our whole society is set up that way.

Celebrities give to causes because it makes them look good and its simply the "thing to do".

Christians join bus teams and give away clothes and lunches to the homeless.

Even some (if not most) atheists will do a kind deed for a neighbor in need.

And let's face it - most of us think we're good people. I believe it's a myth. We've softened our lives so much that we think that when we give away a prepackaged soup bowl to some homeless fellow that we've done a good deed. And we have. In fact we need more hands like that feeding people in need...


what if that was my last bowl of soup? period. What if I were as penniless as the homeless fellow himself, it was my last bowl of soup, and there was no one to see me give it away, there was no mission report to go give at a church somewhere afterwards, it was just me and this guy and no one would ever even know if I gave it away to him or not.

What if it was my favorite coat that was my great-grandfather's and that I treasure with a passion because of the legacy he left behind...

or... my personal-all-marked-up-soft-goatskin-leather-cover-treasured-friend bible?

What if it was your most treasured something... your last bowl of soup... your last crumb of bread? What would you do?

And would you do it because it is the right thing to do and you'd go to your death bed being "right" or would you do it because your heart overflowed so much with love for the homeless fellow that nothing could keep you from giving...

That's love.

He came and He gave because He loved so much that nothing could stop Him.

I want that kind of love. I choose that kind of love. I fight for it.

Do you?


  1. I have no words for this - 1 cor 13:3

    1. "though I give my body to be burned..." piercing words...

  2. I feel like I'm just beginning to understand. . . what it means to love.

  3. Wow... I choose that kind of love too, brother. Oh, how I want it. BTW, it looks like you had the exact view I did out the motel window! I wish I would have met you at GYC!
    Thanks for sharing those thoughts, brother...

    1. Amen brother! Twas actually taken from a friends window - but wish I could have met you there too! :)

  4. Oh, I want it with all my heart, yet I feel I'm just beginning to learn…

  5. Yes, real love... The kind that's talked about in 1Cor 13... Thanks for sharing.

  6. I'm just beginning to understand it too. It's a topic that God often, so faithfully, pops into my mind as I am giving to many young people every day. Oh, I crave that love.

  7. She asked you for money. You noticed that she needed clothes and food. So you gave her a Bible.

    You gave her something valuable, this is true. However, you gave her something to meet a spiritual need when her spiritual needs were pushed far from her mind by her basic physical needs. I would not be surprised if that Bible ended up in the gutter.

    Sometimes we act out James 2:15-16, and then congratulate ourselves for giving away a Bible, or some sort of tract. Matthew 25:35-36 doesn't say "For I was hungry and you gave me a Bible, I was thirsty and you gave me a Signs Magazine, I was a stranger and you told me Jesus loved me, I needed clothes and you quoted scripture to me, I was sick and you told me vegetarianism was healthier, I was in prison and you prayed for me."

    You're a kind and generous person, and I'm sure your gift came from the heart. That said, if you want to radically love as Jesus did, next time leave your Bible in your coat pocket.

    And then give her the coat.

    1. I love and resonate with the heart of your message Kade. Reminds me of a couple sentences that stuck out to me in DA - "The evidence of His divinity was seen in its adaptation to the needs of suffering humanity. His glory was shown in His condescension to our low estate."

      The world needs those hands and feet... thanks for sharing.

  8. It's hard to know what to do in those situations. . . who knows but maybe she needed the WORD more than anything at that moment and was receptive. Never underestimate the power of the promptings of the Spirit. God bless. May we learn to love and give and bless others sacrificially.

  9. How little we see... unless He shows us. I'm asking the Lord to open my eyes more, too. Thanks for sharing, Paul.


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