Article 29 : Letters from the desk of a Great-Grandfather
Some time ago, I came across a small but remarkable news item in The Times. Underneath a tiny photograph of a police officer crouching beside a homeless man was the following article.
HOMELESS MAN HELPED BY A FAIR COP.
Manhattan. On a night so wintry that a police officer's feet were cold even with two pairs of socks, a homeless man passed him barefoot. The officer talked to him, got his shoe size, went into a shop and bought him boots and socks. There it might have ended - but a tourist from Arizona had caught the moment, in Times Square on November 14 , on her phone. Jennifer Foster sent the picture to the New York Police Department, which put it on its Facebook page. As of last night it had more than 360,000 likes and 100,000 shares. One of the comments was "An officer AND a gentleman". The officer was identified as Larry DePrimo, 25, who said "I didn't think anything of it". The man's identity is not known.
One of the things that struck me about this incident, apart from the fact that I read about it in the Times, was that it seems the police officer didn't tell anyone. You'd think he'd talk about it to his colleagues, his family or his pastor. I know I'd be tempted to feel good, look good, gain some Brownie points, even some praise. Though when you think about it, it wouldn't be easy to relate without appearing pompous and proud. Instead he seems to have been modest: kind: kept it quiet. But we need to remember what Jesus said. "When you give to the needy, don't make a big song and dance about it. Do it secretly, not letting your left hand know what the right hand is doing." After all, the whole purpose of such a gift is to bless the recipient, not to bless me or to gain a convert.
Recently I read of someone who is leaving bunches of flowers on benches with a note saying that these flowers are intended as a blessing to whoever finds them. " Acts of kindness, no strings attached" was the mission statement of a church we knew in Walsall. It could easily be part of our personal mission statement too. Flowers, cards, cooking for neighbours - it's all a part of being a blessing. Remember too that Jesus said it's especially valuable if the ones blessed cannot repay us!
But I must add a second thought. Blessing is like a boomerang - it always comes back to us in some form. Did the young police officer benefit directly from his kindness, I wonder. Was he called upstairs and commended, even promoted? We'll never know. Nobody else might ever find out about our kindnesses, but God always knows. And he is a rewarder of grace acts. In some form or other we receive from others just as we give out. Jesus said so, so it must be true. Not that we can use this principle to " get rich quick". One evening at Dales Bible Week, walking back from a meeting, I found a 10p on the path. I picked it up and decided to "sow it" in the offering next day. Then the next night, I found a £1 coin! Can you guess what I did next? I sowed it in the offering and waited hopefully to find some paper money. But God just smiled and seemed to say, " It doesn't work like that, Pete!" Blessing isn't a slot machine that we put a coin into and hope for a greater blessing to come out. It's a lifestyle and as we follow Jesus, we walk in it. If you're feeling down right now, or lonely, or just rotten, then blessing someone will be a huge help. Get the baking equipment out, make a few phone calls, spend 10 minutes in prayer just to bless some individuals. As you release blessing into the world, you will get a blessing too, in some form or other. And if you have been blessed, PASS IT ON. That's how to be a blessing.
Stay safe. Follow the rules. Stay distanced.
PS Sir Bernard Jenkins, MP, has shared his way of enforcing social distancing. He ends his breakfast with toast covered in Marmite garnished with sliced garlic.Once it's on his breath, it encourages social distancing up to lunchtime at least!!