The most valuable resource we can offer is the Gospel.

We all hear those inspiring stories of people who have paid for the meal of the person behind them in the drive-thru lane. Or people who have dropped $20 bills into the buckets of all those they pass by on the street. Or those who have purchased a hot drink for the person standing out in the cold. Our hearts warm as we hear of these and we are inspired to action.

At the risk of offending some, let me be honest: what you think is warm and fuzzy may in fact be the opposite to someone else. I was reminded of this last week when I met Heather. Heather is a homeless woman who just left her abusive boyfriend and is looking for money for a down payment on an apartment so she no longer has to be homeless. She suffers from spinal pain and can’t work, but has income from social security and disability.

The moment I saw Heather standing alone on the street, I made a bee-line for her. We talked and prayed and I told her of the love of God.

And as we talked, a woman came by and handed Heather a cup of coffee and walked away. Heather looked down at it and then eagerly re-engaged our conversation.

Missiologist Donald K. Smith once said that all communication is cross-cultural. David Hesselgrave has also written on the importance of contextualization, worldview, communications, and the like, as have many others. When we seek to serve others, we put their needs before ours. We deliberately work to understand what would best serve them. We seek ways to love and care for them so they feel valued and valuable.

The Golden Rule, for all of its brilliance, is often times a hindrance to true gospel witness and real relationships. Let me share a silly, but powerful proverb to make my point:

The restaurant had a sign that said, "We treat others …

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from Christianity Today Magazine