“In a culture where most people are looking out for number one, random acts of kindness stand out as brightly as a lighthouse on a moonless night.” (Wayne Jacobsen)

In most cities its pretty common to see people standing on street corners with cardboard signs asking for aid. Many people I know have experienced a tug on their heart as they see a sign proclaiming that the person is a “veteran” in need of help. I must admit that most of the time I have not helped, not because I couldn’t, but because I have become suspicious of their real need. I became cynical of them after I gave someone twenty dollars and later saw them get into a nice car parked a block away after their financial success on the corner. The fact is that many of them are trying to scam people out of money in the guise of needing aid.  Nevertheless, I try to remember that there still are many people out there in need of real help, so instead of just relying on an emotional heart tug I try to use some spiritual discernment.

The other day I had my three adolescent kids with me when we saw a disheveled man in a wheelchair asking for help. Something stirred deep inside me so I reached in to my pocket, retrieved some money, and gave it to my 8 year old and told him to  go give it to the man. He reluctantly but bravely walked up to the homeless man and handed him the money saying, “Here, this is for you.”  After a pregnant moment of silence the man the man stared deeply at my son and thanked him. It had more impact because they were at eye level since the man was in a wheelchair. But what really touched my son, as well as my other two kids that were with him, was that the man also said, “May God bless you for helping me!” They ran back to me exclaiming, “Daddy, he believes in God.” I didn’t think any more about it but throughout the day the kids continued to bring up the story of the man and how they had helped him.

I have no idea if the man was scamming us for aid that day, but one thing I gained from my kids is the lesson that acts of kindness sometimes do more for us then those we help. The feelings that arose in the kids from helping someone who seemed to be in real trouble was a life altering event. Maybe that was the lesson God wanted us. It’s the lesson of the good Samaritan—it was a lesson in kindness.