I keep finding books, blogs, and opinions that worry whether we give a bum a few dollars if she will just use it for drugs or if he will just spend it on booze.
How did this get to be such a big deal? Why all the worry?
We are talking about a couple of dollars here, people! It is your disposable income. It’s merely the crumbs off your table! Walmart jams the checkout area with candy, magazines, and novelties just to separate you from that same money, and it works too. Just look at all the glutted American public walking around in that store – they even have websites where you can laugh at these misshaped hordes! But no one writes a book about that? What’s the problem?
Oh… you are afraid the money will be misused?
Do me a favor. Check the inside tongue of your shoes right now. Go ahead. I will wait…
No. Really. Check…
Okay. Did the tag say, “Made in China”? How about “Indonesia”?
I bet you got a good deal on them. But did you know that you are supporting slavery and sweatshops when you give your money for those shoes? How about your coffee? Is it free-trade or fair-trade? When was the last time you thought about where your money was going when you bought coffee or necessary items for your daily life?
Why do you care where your money goes if you give it to a bum but not if you give it to Walmart? You are a slave trader and you look down your nose at the homeless??? Why do you suddenly care if that beggar misuses your money?
Yeah… that’s a fancy word that gets a special meaning in “recovery” circles and in a few psychology books. But it’s not in your Bible. Do you know how much Jesus has to say about “enabling”?
On the other hand, he tells us in Luke 6:30 to give to all who ask. He tells at least one rich guy to sell all he owns and give it to the poor… (Mark 10:21). He makes no mention that you should be worried about this kind of giving.
What? Did it just slip his mind? The all-seeing/all-knowing God of the universe just forgot to tell you to be worried about where your alms wind up?
And about that booze??? Go see what the Bible says in Proverbs 31:6-7. If you trust the word of God, why all the worry about a little booze and drugs?
And anyway, aren’t you buying booze and drugs? Seriously, why is a beer okay in your fridge, but if you see a bum nursing one you are filled with contempt? Isn’t that hypocritical? How do you even see him with such a log in your own eye?
Also, that money you give is not yours; it’s God’s. And when you minister to the “least of these” brothers and sisters, you do so for Jesus himself (Matt. 25:35-40); when you withhold your ministry from the “least of these” you withhold it from Jesus (Matt. 25:42-45). Therefore, if you give that money to the bum, you are giving it to Jesus, and it becomes his problem, not yours. Don’t let all this contempt steal your heart! God loves a cheerful giver! (II Cor. 9:7) but you feel compelled to give your money only to the United Way or some other charitable organization (and we all know they always spend it wisely!!!)
So… Where are we now?
It looks like either we struggle too much with loving the money (I Tim. 6:10 anyone?) or we really hate the poor. Which is it?
Here is an exception – though it is not really an exception, but I am sure someone will think my post is blanketing this too… If you are in an ongoing relationship with someone you are helping as they face addiction, AND if you feel sure that person is slipping into a poor choice, then withholding a few dollars is not about love of money and hate of neighbor. But otherwise, when you see a beggar on the street, your worry about giving her/him a few dollars has more to do with your love of money and/or contempt for the poor. And honestly, I am mindful that even in the case of on-going relationship, the choice of the Father to fund his Prodigal Son’s misadventures is exactly the choice God makes with his own children.
So… even there you haven’t got much to worry about.
How about we cut out all this worry over giving and trust God with it?