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The Good Orlandoan
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It’s so easy to get caught up in being a “good Christian” for the wrong reasons. This is a lesson I learned not 30 minutes ago driving down I-4 in Orlando, Fla.

Being that I am on break for the entire week and finally with a little more time on my hands, I offered to pick up my girlfriend Andrea and take her to work this morning. As we neared the Fairbanks exit that I usually take to get to Florida Hospital, we noticed a homeless man standing by the overpass with a sign that said, “Hungry. Please help.” Having read up on the parable of the Good Samaritan just a few days ago, I decided in my heart that I was going to get him a full breakfast as soon as I dropped off Andrea.

On the way back from the hospital I stopped by the nearest McDonald’s so that I could do my “good deed” for the day. For the record, I loaded up: two egg and cheese sandwiches, two orders of hash browns, a cinnamon roll and of course, a steaming cup of McDonald’s freshly roasted coffee! I was ready to be the Good Orlandoan!

My excitement was short-lived, however. When I got to the Fairbanks overpass, he wasn’t there! I drove back and forth through the same street only to find myself stuck with a bag-full of breakfast (and an empty stomach!). Still, I didn’t give up. Some homeless person was going to be fed this morning by the Good Orlandoan!

No Homeless Person for Blocks!

I got back on the freeway and headed towards the Princeton Street exit, remembering that there’s always someone at the overpass holding up signs. My hopes were once again dashed when I arrived to find no one needing help. At this point I was beginning to get frustrated, and the seducing smell of the recently cooked hash browns wasn’t helping one bit. I finally decided to go to the downtown Orlando area literally telling myself, “someone better have this food or I’m going to be very upset!” I drove down to the corner of Colonial and Orange Avenue, usually a place filled to the brim with homeless people. To my utter amazement and disbelief, I couldn’t locate one homeless person for blocks!

I’d had it. I had tried to do something good, and God was closing all the doors on me. I had tried to help out someone in need. I had tried to go out of my way for someone. I was so upset that on my way back home, I reached inside the bag to have one of the hash browns. The second I took a bite, it suddenly hit me like a bucket of cold water: “Do not love the world…For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he HAS and DOES – comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

I realized what was going on. I had let my pride take over. I was trying to feed someone else so I could feed myself with the proud feeling of being a “good Christian”. But before I could help anyone, I needed to be helped and my heart needed to be stripped of it’s boastful arrogance. The words of 1 John 2:16 kept bouncing around in my head. I felt ashamed. I asked God for forgiveness right there in the car.

To my amazement, as soon as I had finished the prayer, I noticed an older woman sitting by the underpass. I hope she enjoyed my gift as much as I enjoyed learning how to truly give.

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By Sebastian Zaldibar. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the New International Version®.

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