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?
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.