Consider the Risks
You may recall the parties we have held for the street children of our community, the “shoeshine boys.” At the first party we met an older boy named Marcos, and since then we have seen him occasionally in town. He often comes over to say hello, and we always offer him food. At the beginning of this school year he showed up at our new house looking for help, so we gave him some work to do for a little cash, and fed him a proper meal as well.
So, we weren’t surprised to see Marcos waiting in our driveway again last week. He said his mom had died earlier that month, that he was living on the street, and that he was hungry. The smell of him lent credence to his story, so we fed him a meal, made up a bed for him in our basement, and gave him a shower and toothbrush along with some clean clothes. The next day we were leaving town for an overnight camping trip, so we told him we’d pay him a bit to watch the house. We took our computers with us as a precaution, but the key he had only accessed our basement garage and not the house.
When we returned Sunday, the neighbor kids immediately informed us that he’d been out riding my motorcycle. Several parts of the motorcycle were damaged from an obvious, but minor, crash. When he returned to the house, we soon discovered that he had also stolen Tavin’s bike and sold it. He denied it all.
I went to the police, and they agreed to come talk to him. As we came driving up to our house, they recognized him immediately. They knew him as a thief, a ‘ladron’, and had encountered him many times. Calls to friends in other ministries confirmed that he had a history of mistakes and theft. That he had been offered love and grace by many, and had betrayed it every time.
So we told him that he was forgiven, but also that he is not welcome anywhere near our house anymore. We feel sad. Not for the money needed to repair the motorcycle, or the stolen bike that the police later recovered from Marcos’ confession. We’re sad because this young man is so lost, that even when people show him unconditional love, show him grace in action, offer him honest work, and show him a better path – he still chooses the ill gotten gains.
Some may question the wisdom we showed in taking the risk, in taking in a homeless man of 19, of opening ourselves to potential theft and loss. We knew those risks, we knew we could very well lose some ‘things’. Consider what a greater risk it would be to value things over people. What greater risk to be hard-hearted, and show concern only for ‘stuff’. What greater risk to stand at judgment and hear my Lord and Savior say, “Depart from me.”
Matthew 25: 34-46
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come you who are blessed by my Father; take you inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
They will also answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
He will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life