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  • Writer's pictureRhovonda Brown

Five Dollars

[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. (2 Cor. 9:6, AMP)

This morning, I was in the mood for some coffee and a pumpkin scone, and was willing to wait in this long (Ridiculous!) line at Starbucks. So, I waited. And waited and waited to spend my little bit on breakfast. Come to think of it, my truck probably wasted close to $10 in gas as I anticipated satisfying my sweet tooth.

It was finally my turn at the drive-thru window. I opted using my debit card instead of cash, and happily drove off excited about enjoying my pumpkin scone and fresh hot coffee. Normally, with a swift left turn, I’m back home within minutes. But not today. For some reason I decided to take the long route, even though I had been waiting in the longest line EVER. I have no idea why I went that way…..well, I do now.

This alternate route lead me directly into traffic. While waiting, once again, in traffic, at the light for metro rail, a man walks pass my truck holding a sign that reads, “25¢ goes a long way.” He wore a camouflage fishermen hat with the adjustable chin strap, baggie black gym shorts, dingy or dirty white t-shirt, and flip-flop shoes that seemed to be hiding underneath the heel of his large feet. Yeah. Out of habit, I did a quick inventory. From head to toe I believe I can determine if a person is truly homeless, a beggar, or just a con artist. Does this theory shed some truth? Not really.

Anyway, his stride decreased each time he passes a vehicle, as if to give drivers time to decide whether he and/or his cause was worthy of their coins. When he came close to my truck I looked at him in his face, then turned my head away. So he kept walking and I kept my eye on him, looking through my side and rear view mirror. These days you can never be too careful. However, I noticed the driver behind me do the same – cautiously observe this man.

After doing his initial walk through, with no donors, the homeless man (I guess that’s what he was) turned around and walked past the cars again. This time, the guarded driver behind me raised down his window and gave. At that moment, I heard, “Where’s that five dollars you had?” Huh? “You were going to give five dollars to Starbucks. Now, give it to him.” Reluctant to be obedient, I dug in my purse, fumbling through my last bit of cash to find five dollars. Quickly letting my window down, I blew my horn, but he didn’t turn around. He didn’t see me. I blew it again louder, waving the five dollar bill in my hand to get his attention. Finally, he turned around, hurriedly took the cash, smiled and said, “God bless you.”

You want to know how I felt afterwards. Conned. I immediately felt I had just been had. Like I was waiting for the man to say, “Gotcha!” Then, I said to myself, I don’t know anything about that man. Maybe he’ll use that five dollars to buy a hot meal. Maybe he’ll spend it on drugs. Maybe he was homeless. Maybe he was a beggar or just a straight up con artist doing whatever he can to get over on people. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I didn’t have a clue what this stranger would do with the money he collects on the streets.

The light turned green. I drove passed him, and he gave me a genuine smiled and waved goodbye.

You know what amazes me? I was willing to wait in a long line to give five dollars away to company whose annual revenue is over 13 billion dollars. I’m amazed that without giving it a second thought I’ll spend $20 on a meal at Chick-fil-a, and their lines are always long! On the other hand, most times, I will blatantly refuse to give my change to a beggar on the street. Why? Because I selfishly question how he or she will spend my money. But as a consumer, waiting in a fast food line, this thought never comes up.

Nope, not on a soap box today. Yet I’m grateful to God for showing me my reflection. He made it obvious that I miss out on countless opportunities to be a blessing to a stranger on the street. I fail to give my little or my last on the grounds that this person may not be legit. Shame on me, especially when I’m told to be a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).

Earlier this morning, I was tweeted a YouTube video about these guys who randomly asked strangers for food. I was surprised, well not really, by the people’s response. This video prompt me to post “Let’s not pass up our opportunity to be a blessing to someone else (Lk. 17:11-19)”, except God didn’t allow me to post it. Unbeknownst to me, (God has such a sense of humor!) He wanted to present me with an opportunity to either eat my words or practice what I preached. Honestly, I was oh so close at eating my words. I almost missed out on my chance to give.

Prayer: Father, please forgive me. On many occasions, I shamelessly look the other way when given a chance to show benevolence to Your people. Not only have You called me to share words of encouragement, but You’ve called me to show acts of compassion and generosity too. I’m so sorry for missing opportunities to be a blessing to those in need. Teach me how to be a cheerful giver, giving bountifully expecting nothing in return. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Rhovonda L. Brown is speaker and author of two bestsellers, Walking in Freedom!: A Thirty-Day Devotional Journey for Women and At Least Say, “Thank You!”: An 8-Day Devotional Plan for a Grateful Heart. 

Copyright ©2010-2016. Rhovonda L. Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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