By Alex Florez
Just the other day, waiting at a stop light, I came across a homeless man with a sign asking for money. I knew I had some cash stuffed in my wallet, so I flagged down the man. We exchanged pleasantries, and I offered a perfunctory “God bless you, brother,” as I rolled up the window. There. That’s the good part.
But what I left out of the story was the posture of my heart in the transaction. I knew I had an assortment of ones and twenties; there may have even been a couple of Lincolns in the mix. When I reached for the cash, I stole a glance out of the corner of my eye to make sure I only grabbed a single. I repeat: I made sure I only grabbed a single. While I was determined to share something with the man, I was only willing to give up the least of what I had to offer. I can’t explain the details of my calculus in that moment, but I know for sure that I was unwilling to part with one of my precious twenty-dollar bills. Even a 5-spot felt like too much to surrender to this hapless stranger.
What is there in my heart that made me think this guy just wasn’t worth more than a single dollar? Certainly, I wouldn’t miss a buck, but five? Twenty? Sorry, buddy. I’m saving the good stuff for something or someone more important (me).
I think the reason Jesus made such a big deal of defending the woman in Mark 14 was to make sure we got the message: hoarding our treasure for some vague, future occasion is contrary to God’s heart for giving, and it sullies the value of the treasure itself. “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:9). The memory He wants us to hang on to is her impulse to spare no expense on Jesus.
Now, I’m not saying that the man I encountered was actually the Word made flesh, Jesus of Nazareth Himself. Nor am I saying that God is watching, clipboard in hand, taking notes on how much money I give away in order to measure my worthiness. What I mean to say is that opportunities to give allow us to participate in the love of Jesus—not to earn it, but to share in it.
There is much to be said for tendering our very best to those whom God puts in our path. There are eternal implications for the heart that gives out of the abundance which it has freely received. In those rare moments when we muster the courage to give with reckless abandon—when we trust Jesus enough to supply us with what we need, so we can be generous ministers of our inheritance—we have the privilege of participating in God’s boundless love.