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Friday, January 4, 2008

Homeless Freeloaders!

On a special edition of ABC 20/20, John Stossel examined homelessness in America. He asked: "Does America "create" more homeless freeloaders, because of our compassion? Does it make it worse? Should we help able bodied homeless or are we creating a culture of dependency that makes it difficult for people to improve their lives?"

One viewer responded, (true story): "When I was 22 years old I saw a "homeless" person with a "will work for food" sign in a snow storm. My heart ached for the man. I went to the store and purchased a jacket, gloves, and food. I drove back to the corner and gave him what I had purchased. He said "thank you", but didn't seem appreciative. I assumed he would have eaten some of the food immediately, but he stuffed the food in his bag and didn't eat a thing. As I drove away perplexed I looked in my rear view mirror and the man had begun to walk to the far corner of parking lot. I was curious so I drove around the block and came back.The man got into a brand new Chevy Corvette!!! I kid you not! I was shocked and disgusted." The viewer, from this one experience felt qualified to agree with Stossel's premise: American compassion may be "creating" homeless freeloaders. So, there it is ... someone has apparently figured out the complexity of poverty in America by one charitable encounter gone bad.

Thanks be to God that His mercy is not of the same rationale as humans. If it was, all of us would be in a lot of trouble at the moment of death as well as on Judgement Day. If Jesus measured mercy the way we do (thanks be to God that he does not) - he could hypothetically write in a blog some time, somewhere, something like this: "When that Mr. or Ms. so-and-so arrived at the gates of heaven, I couldn't help but remember when they were 30 years old. I sent a "neon sign" to repent of their sins. They changed just for a short time, but old habits of lust and wrongdoing crept back in. Oh well, humans must be alike so I think that all of them here-to-fore are going to have to dig their way out of hell. I refuse to help any of them based on my experience with Mr. or Ms. so-and-so! Love, Jesus."

Obviously, we are grateful that God does not deal with us in this manner. God is pure love. But unfortunately, humans can be very unkind and extremely unmerciful to losers and sinners. And yet, we are all losers and sinners in one-shape-or-form. When all is said and done, this type of unmerciful thinking toward the homeless is reminiscent of the parable that Jesus tells of the wicked servant. In the story, the servant gets forgiven an enormous debt, but then goes out and refuses to be merciful to a fellow servant who owes a small debt. In the end, the master finds out about the injustice and throws him into jail. Then, he is tortured until the very last penny is paid. (Matthew 18:21-35)


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