This past Saturday I went to the bank to exchange some money for our trip. On the way into the bank there was a man standing in the corner out on the steps of the bank. He smiled at me and said “Well, winter has finally come!” I responded with “Yes, it sure has”. He looked at me and said “It’s cold out here.”
I smiled, said, “yes” and went into the bank. While I was waiting in line I watched him. He would walk into the foyer of the bank…sit down for a few minutes to warm up and then go back outside. I watched the people leaving the bank and noticed that everybody was going out a different door just to avoid talking to him.
Why? They didn’t want to feel uncomfortable or maybe give him money. That would be my guess.
I continued to watch as I was getting closer and closer to the front of the line. I noticed that he was wearing Nike shoes…a pretty warm jacket and a nice warm hat. I thought to myself “this guy can’t be too far off in the financial situation if he is wearing Nikes.”
The line progressed and soon I was up close enough that I could hear people talking to the tellers. This couple (a man and a woman) went up and they started talking to the teller about the man out on the step. The woman was saying something about how she was at the ATM and she was nervous that he was out there…and then the guy said “people like him shouldn’t even be allowed on the steps.”
Seriously. That’s what he said.
“People like him.”
I thought to myself “what makes this guy any better than that guy out there?” He’s not wearing fancy clothes, didn’t look like he was driving a fancy car….and his wife didn’t have anything fancy on either. The only thing that seperated this couple from the man out on the steps was the door to the bank. Seriously. The couple didn’t know the man’s background. They didn’t know what he was going through. Maybe his kid has cancer, maybe his wife left him and took all his money. Maybe he had to declare bankruptcy when he lost his job. Maybe he lost his house….maybe he’s depressed and can’t find a way out of his financial mess. Or maybe, he was just somebody trying to get somewhere and his car broke down and he didn’t have any money.
Who knows where that couple could be two years, 1 year or even weeks from today. Maybe they could be in the same situation. Maybe they could find themselves standing out on the steps hoping that somebody would be kind enough to give them money.
Did they stop and ask? Probably not. Did I? Nope. Did he make me uncomfortable too? Sure did. But why? He didn’t ask me for money…not once. Did I stop and give him some? No……and there was no reason for it. Something that I’m ashamed of. I didn’t stop to ask if he needed help…and once I was inside I pre-judged him by the clothes he was wearing.
What if that was a test and I just failed miserably? The Bible says in Matthew 25: 34-45:
34 “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. 35 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, 36 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.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fireprepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
I do know one thing. I don’t want to ever think that I’m above “those people on the steps.” I don’t know their situation. Life hasn’t dealt me those kinds of problems (if he even had any…..he never asked me for money). I only hope that if I was that person on the step that somebody would treat me with a little more dignity than what that man got that day. That they wouldn’t pre-judge me like I did to him.
Let’s all be a little kinder to each other. Maybe it will make the world a little happier.
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