Homeless people are a regular site in New Orleans. Many walk the streets of the French Quarter, asking tourists and locals alike if they can help them out with some money. Some want food, some want alcohol, some just sit in the street, and some even hold up funny signs. There was one man sitting by the road the other day with a sign that read, “I need money for beer, please. God bless you.” I thought to myself, “At least he’s being honest.” I don’t look forward to interactions with the beggars; my heartstrings get pulled when I see them and I hand them a couple of dollars. Ten minutes later I see them in the gas station down the road scratching lottery tickets they bought with my 5 bucks. Oh well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.
The other day as I was walking in Uptown New Orleans, a bum was seated on the curb with all his belongings in a rusty, metal grocery cart beside him. His eyes lit up when he saw me approaching; I did my usual routine of pulling a couple of dollars out of my wallet. Before he could even say a word I looked at him and said, “Here you go man, buy you a hot meal with that.” He looked at me like the gift wasn’t sufficient enough for his taste buds. Just as I’m about to put my money back in my wallet in disgust, he speaks up. “I don’t want no money.” I’ll have to admit, I never got that reaction before. “Can you tell me where the Jewish Community Center is?” Surprised, I told him to walk two more blocks to St. Charles Avenue and he would be there. I asked him, “What’s going on at the Jewish Center?” He explained that the center was teaching an adult education class helping people learn how to read. He said, “I got this book that I want to read real bad, but I don’t know how, so they are gonna teach me.” He hunched over his overstuffed grocery cart and amongst the paper bags and tins cans emerged a dirty, worn out, leather-bound Bible. “I wish I knew how to read so I could hear some of the stories in the book. They are good.”
I sat in my car as I watched the rough dressed man push his cart toward St. Charles Avenue. I have never been humbled by a homeless man before, but I guess there’s always a first. I’ve got a college degree, a year away from getting my master’s degree, and have been able to read since I was young. I own countless copies of the Bible and have the freedom to open any one of them up in any translation and read. We all do. But how many days go by that we don’t even spend time with God, not to mention in His Word. That homeless man became an instant accountability partner for me. God has given each of us the ability to read and has given us his Word, but many times we don’t even crack it open until Sunday morning at church. Reading qualifies as a talent and gift that God has given us; and just like other talents, God expects us to use it wisely and for His glory. So tomorrow morning when you wake up, spend a little time in God’s Word. There are people in other countries who risk their life to read God’s Word, and others who have a desire to read it but cannot. We have to be more accountable to God and ourselves with the many gifts and talents He has given us, and be careful not to take even the smallest abilities for granted.
-Spending time in the Word-
1. Matthew 6:1-4 tells of Jesus’ teachings on giving to the needy people around us.
2. James 2:14-26 talks about how deeds show the real level of your faith.
-Hiding the Word in your heart-
Memorize these verses as you continue to learn and study the Word of God daily.
1. James 1:27- “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
2. Hebrews 13:1- “Keep on loving each other as brothers.”