When I was maybe 17 years old, I was working full-time at a store in the mall and studying at the local community college during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. On this particular day, I walked into Publix, because more than anything that defined me that moment, I was hungry. I didn’t have any money on me as I was waiting on a desperately needed paycheck after paying some bills, so I took my cup of spare change from my car into the store with me. I picked up a couple things to eat for dinner that night at work and went to the check out. As I was counting the change on a free aisle, I heard from behind me someone making the sound of a banjo. I turned around to see a woman, obviously wealthy and for some reason impatiently standing behind me judgmental to my situation. For some reason, not in my character at the time, I demanded of her, “Did that make you feel better? Making me out to be a hick? Judging me? Did that make you feel like a better person?” Obviously not expecting this sort of retaliation she harumph’d off to finish her shopping.
I had entirely forgotten this experience until today, as I count out change once again—this time to put in my bank account as my center console is aggravatingly full. With this memory, however, I have to wonder how many others are around the country desperately counting loose change they’ve found in couch cushions, under floor mats and car seats, and in parking lots, hoping that maybe just a few more quarters they’ll be able to eat that night or pay a bill on time. How many times have we passed by people like that and judged them? Oh, they’re just lazy. Why don’t they just get a job? I don’t need to help them, I have enough to worry about Etc. Etc. I’m here to tell you they are not lazy. They cannot find a job, no matter how hard they try. And despite what you may concern yourself with, they have much more to worry about than you do. Have you ever had to worry about where your next meal comes from? Have you ever had to face the dilemma between paying rent or paying your utilities bill? Have you ever come home to an eviction notice on your door?
They aren’t degenerates who are strung out on drugs, they’re our neighbors, they’re students, they’re veterans—and you judge them? Why? Do you really need to feel that much better about yourself that you have to kick someone with nothing while they’re down? I hope that makes you feel better, because every time I see a post on facebook or elsewhere demanding that people “Just get a job” or “stop being so lazy” I want to shake them out of their own insanity. With 4 people applying for every 1 job opening, and unemployment numbers going down because people have completely given up finding legitimate employment, it isn’t as easy as you seem to think it is. As much as I’d like to, I cannot wish that those “Just get a job!” folks will fall into the position of the needy: broke, desperate, hopeless, I just hope that somehow they’ll finally find compassion, stop rationalizing their prejudices on biased and entirely wrong information, and see those people in need around them as human beings. If not, I sincerely hope that kicking a hurting person while they’re down makes you feel better, because while that person may not stand up to you, I can guarantee that God is watching every move you make and when He judges your heart, I will have great pity for you.
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”