Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on October 26, 2016
The candy bowl is filled, the porch light is on, and the doorbell is waiting. I am ready for Halloween. On Monday evening as sunset turns to darkness, costumed children will begin their quest for “tricks or treats.” Of course, every child hopes for a bag full of treats on their “All Hallow’s Eve” journey. I can’t wait to greet and “treat” my neighbors. No “tricks” at my house!
But, what about the rest of the year? How do I respond to the neighbor who approaches and asks for a “treat?” Am I more of a trickster or a treater? Am I too busy to greet and treat? Or, am I too suspicious or unwilling to be “tricked” that I miss the opportunity to “treat?”
Jesus says that we should “give to everyone who asks of you” (Luke 6:30). I think He is talking about “treats” over “tricks.” I struggle at times with “treats,” because sometimes it is just easier to leave the porch light off and pretend no one is at home (“tricks”). Here’s my story.
My family was on the way home from visiting our daughter at college. It was late on a Saturday afternoon, but we needed to stop for food, gas and all that the new Buc-ee’s in Ft. Worth had to offer. The family went in to explore and I was left at the gas pump. As I finished, a woman drove up and began to ask for help. She was living in her car with her dog. She never asked for anything specific, but went on about all of her struggles and needs. I felt put out and delayed on my journey to get home so that I could be rested to preach about God’s love the next morning. Trying to ease my conscience and end the conversation as quickly as possible, I shared that my family was inside getting something to eat and that I would be willing to buy her dinner. I think the “treat” was greatly appreciated, but for the next 2 hours I wrestled with my “trickster” spirit that offered food, but no compassion or neighborliness.
A few weeks later, we were on our way home from a family wedding. We stopped at a QT for gas and a drink. The family went in and I stayed at the pump. A young woman approached me and said she was living in her car. She only needed $10 to $20 more to get a hotel room for the night. I asked if she had family nearby and she said that was not an option. As I listened, my spirit was different than a few weeks earlier. I told her that I could not help with cash for a hotel room, but that my family would like to buy her dinner. She said that she would “really appreciate something to eat.”
I am still in disbelief that these similar encounters happened within weeks of each other. Yet, I am thankful for a second chance to be a neighbor and offer a “treat” to someone in need.
“Trick or Treat!?” I encourage you to be a good neighbor this Halloween and “treat” the children of your neighborhood.
But more importantly, I pray hospitality and generosity will permeate your spirit each day of the year. Let us put our selfish bag of “tricks” away when others are in need and offer a “treat” of grace and compassion.
“Give to everyone who asks of you.”