Thanksgiving is here. A time for us all to look around and acknowledge our blessings. The people in our lives, the “things” that we have. I belong to a local networking group called BIB (Believers in Business) a wonderful group of faith-based business owners who get together twice monthly, and offer prayers for each other and our businesses. With the holiday approaching, a call came asking for donations to a yearly initiative between the group and the Nazareth Chamber of Commerce, where I am also a member. I made my donation, and asked the President of the Chamber if I could be part of this project. She said, “Joe, you are welcome to join us.” So this morning at 11am we met at a local supermarket and were each given 3 – $50 gift cards to the supermarket. The objective was to walk around the market and “gift” them to people that we felt were in need.
For the next 90 minutes I walked around, praying, asking for guidance and trying to find people that I felt would be worthy of the gifts I had in my pocket. But I had something interesting happen. I realized that I was observing people and judging whether they should receive the gift based on how they looked or what they were wearing. I was judging the book by it’s cover. Not what we, as believers are called to do. Matthew 7:1-2 says “Judge not lest you be judged. For as you judge so shall you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” And so, I consciously tried to let the Spirit find the right people instead of looking at the clothes they were wearing. I also initially wanted to find someone who would engage a total stranger in the light of the Beatitudes, but then a friend said that people in need would not necessarily engage.
In the end, I gave one card to a beautiful older couple who I saw pick things up together and put them back. I loved how they looked at each other in loving ways, obviously having shopped together for many years. Subtle looks, subtle touches. The second was an older lady and her older mom. They thanked me and asked instead that I give the gift card to someone more deserving. She also asked my name so she could pray for me. I told her, ” My name is Joe Marcus and would you please accept my gift and pay it forward to someone that you feel would be deserving.” She said “Yes, Joseph, I will.” I liked that she called me Joseph. Her mom also touched my cheek which reminded me of my grandmother’s touch. The last person I chose was a guy who worked at the market. I had seen him hustling around, always with a smile. He had a great smile and disposition and the fact that he was completely tattooed on his neck and arms made him a little scary for some, but his smile was warm. He too was very appreciative.
I learned a very hard but valuable lesson today. Don’t judge the book by it’s cover, but to trust in Him to guide me in all things that I do. My faith is very important to me. But, as a repentant sinner I am a work in progress. On a daily basis I learn how my faith in God can truly guide me.