Response To The Poor

Recently I was presented with the question of what the proper response should be from Christians when dealing with the poor, specifically when you come across a homeless person who is asking for money.  I personally don’t give them money for two reasons.  1) I honestly don’t usually have cash on me to give away.  We live in a world where people rarely have cash on them.  2) Our society has perpetuated the thought that homeless people will use that money in the wrong way (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc…) and we are told that it would be best to make donations to local charities or soup kitchens that will use the money responsibly.

But Jesus doesn’t tell us to help those by donating to a large soup kitchen that will in turn help some of the poor.  Jesus calls us to help the poor directly.  Jesus says that anyone who helps the least of these is helping him.  Proverbs 21:13 also says that if “a man shuts his ear to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered”.  Those are powerful (and scary) words.  So what should our response be when we drive by someone holding a sign for money?

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So what is your personal response to homeless people and why?  I’m still wrestling with how I can care more for the homeless and would love to hear how other people approach the issue.

-Jacob

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8 thoughts on “Response To The Poor

  1. When I have cash on me I try to give them whatever cash I have, even if they don’t use it for anything good all that matters is the intention and thought behind you giving. If I don’t have cash on me, which is often, I try to at least stop and talk. If I was to be in their situation I would be lonely and embarrassed, you never know what a kind word might be to them! Also, if I feel like the person is not really homeless or poor I go and buy them food. That way you are helping and showing kindness without digging out cash!

    1. I wasn’t saying that it is only a Christian’s job to help the poor. In many ways I’m sure that non-believers help the poor better than we do. I was just wrestling with the idea, as a Christian, of what to do best to help the poor. Directly hand money to a homeless person or donate to charities and places that say they will best use those funds to help the poor?

      1. Oh yes your right! A group of people had been with Jesus for a while, and Jesus said they needed to be fed. His disciples said to Him, tell the people to go to the local villages to buy food. And the Lord replied “you feed them.” I love that passage.
        How much money is wasted in churches? With expensive carpet, speakers, instruments, video cameras. At home on phones, x boxes TV’s, trips when while the people Jesus said to care for struggle outside our door? How much is donated to the Red cross while thousands are living in the streets? When you do it not to the least of these you do it not to me our Lord said. All that stuff in the churches probably means little to Him.

  2. I noticed my heart goes hard after a while of not giving. In Berlin, every two metres I come across someone begging. For the first two years I shut off completely, but noticed it had a bad effect on my compassionate side. It was not until I started to hang out with an unbeliever (who is now my hubby and a believer) that I started to give all the time. I felt prompted to do so. He later said it was that kindness which helped him to open his eyes to the Lord. Now, he is often the one giving, very generously at times. I sometimes try to give in the currency of dignity, by sharing a bag of chips with them, or in the currency of kindness by at least acknowledging them and apologizing for not giving anything today. Then there is prayer, which I do in some cases which just seem too dangerous for me to get involved in as a woman (at night: someone obviously very spaced out)
    We loose so much if we grow cynical I think.

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