Recently, on my way to the metro I passed a man asking for spare change. I told him I didn’t have any change but I would gladly get him something to eat if he would like. He happily obliged. Conveniently enough, we were standing in front of a 7-11 so in we went.
I asked him what he wanted and he said he only wanted coffee and a donut. With eyebrows raised and a surprised look on my face I asked him, “Is that all you want?” He bashfully responded “Yeah, that should do it.” I then asked him about what he planned to do later when he became hungry again. He looked at me a bit puzzled probably thinking that he doesn’t want to overstep any boundaries or overextend my generosity. Picking up on his non-verbal cues, I said, “why don’t you grab something for later.” He went back for a sandwich and a 2 liter orange soda. I took the liberty of throwing in a couple of bananas, trail mix and some chocolate chip cookies.
After we checked out, he smiled uncontrollably as if he had just won the lottery. I asked him his name, and he said “My name is Joe.” I was shocked that we shared the same name and in that instance I saw a little bit of myself in him. The fact that we shared the same name was proof to me that we were meant to connect. Before I departed, I asked him if we could take a picture so I can remember him, and he happily agreed. As I walked away, I remembered that I still had $10 from a cash-back transaction at CVS earlier that morning. I quickly turned around and walked back towards Joe. As I approached him, I handed the money over to him and said, “This is for later. Just in case.” With his eyes starting to well up with tears, he softly said, “Thank you.” I quickly responded, “No. Thank you and God bless you.”
There are 3 primary groups impacted by an act of generosity. The obvious one is the beneficiary of the generous act or deed. The person who receives a gift clearly benefits. Second is the gift-giver; it feels good to be able to provide for someone else especially when you do not expect anything in return. Thirdly are the witnesses to the good deed. Witnessing a good act or deed has close to the same effect as being the recipient. All in all, it feels good to give and good to receive.
When you respond to a need with generosity, you feel good. When you feel good, you feel God. Helping others is as close to God as you can get. In fact, what you have is meant to be shared not hoarded or locked away for safe-keeping. You are blessed for the purpose of blessing others. Who are we to walk past God’s children and not feed them when they are hungry, clothe them when they are cold or provide shelter to the homeless? What other reason are you here on earth if not to serve others?
Meeting Joe reminded me that underneath the surface, a human being still exists. I experienced homelessness in my teens and I wished more people would have come to my aid. When you see a homeless person asking for help, help them if you can. $10 to a working man is like $100 to a homeless man.
There are no chance encounters. We meet people we were meant to meet, just remember to be a blessing to everyone. If you want to be continuously blessed start by being a blessing to others.
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Joe Paul is an American author, life coach and keynote speaker.