Having spent five years going to university in the heart of downtown Toronto, I saw many people crouched on the sidewalks of the busy streets, hand outstretched in an earnest plea for loose change. I can't recall more than a few instances that I gave to them, usually because I never carry cash anymore. I felt for their plight, and yet had nothing to give.
Then I read a comment a friend wrote about her husband. She said that one of her favourite things about her husband was that he always made sure to put a handful of change in his pocket so that he could drop some coins into the hands of each and every homeless person he walked by. This image has stuck with me for good. Here is a man who takes God's call to "Feed my sheep" seriously enough not just to part with his substance when it is convenient, but to take advance measures to share the abundance with which he has been blessed.
I thought of this experience yet again when I was reading one of my favourite scripture passages the other day, found in the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. How easy it was for me when I walked daily by those with so little, to tune them out, or make them a common part of the landscape. I am grateful for the example of those who remind me of the great commission we have to love and serve our fellowmen.
Ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just-
But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, Oh then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.