7th March 2018

The Homeless Man

“Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.”
Zechariah 7:8-10 (NKJV)

Recently, I was in a charity shop browsing along the shelves of books. It was a Sunday morning and I was the only customer in the shop with the two shop assistants who were standing by the till.

After a few minutes the shop door opened and I watched a gentleman walk in. He was probably in his 30s, over 6ft tall, neatly dressed with a very large rucksack on his back. He had a rummage amongst the men’s clothes, picked a shirt from the rail and approached the assistants. He opened the conversation with a request. “Hi guys. I go ‘round all the charity shops and ask if they can spare just one item of clothing. Maybe a shirt or a T-shirt or a jumper. We homeless guys don’t have anywhere we can get clothes and I like to look smart. Look at this old thing I have to wear.” (That was the shirt he was wearing.) He continued, “It won’t cost you anything ‘cos you’re given everything free. How about this shirt. It’s only a few quid.”

The lady and gentleman behind the counter looked a bit bemused. They muttered something between themselves, then the lady disappeared out the back – possibly to have a rummage through the rag bag.

I paused in my book and CD browse and thought, ‘I can help this chap. I won’t miss £3. He’s welcome to that shirt.’

As I unzipped my bag and started to pull out my purse, I heard the homeless man admit to the assistant, “I’m a professional shop-lifter you know. I do it all the time in the supermarket. They can afford it, but I wouldn’t do it to you guys in the charity shops. I’ve got my principles.”

Have you ever noticed how a million thoughts seem to rocket through your brain in nano-seconds? Well, here are a few of mine after hearing that admission: ‘How dare he steal from that supermarket. That’s the company I used to work for. He doesn’t deserve any help. I hope the shop doesn’t give him anything. I’m not paying for that shirt.’

So I pushed my purse back into my bag and left the shop feeling pretty smug. My superior attitude had bubbled to the surface and erupted in an explosion of carnality. Why didn’t I follow Jesus’ many examples of compassion? I think He would have given the homeless man the shirt and encouraged him to stop stealing. I still have a lot to learn.

Thank you, Father, for these life lessons as we learn how to be like your Son. Thank you for your patience as we learn how to judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. In Jesus name.

Study by Diana Hall


About the Author:
Diana Hall attends the Southampton Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God, UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Southampton
Tauntons College
Hill Lane
SO15 5RL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Noon
Email: peter_noon@wcg.org.uk

*photo from Wikipedia commons by Benjamin Brock