Think You Shouldn’t Give Money To The Homeless??? Read This!

I RARELY find people who actually defend the idea of giving to the poor and homeless.  It gets such a bad rap.  People do it, but they don’t say they do because the prevailing judgment is that if you give money to a bum, it will just be used to support alcohol and drug addiction.  No one wants to support that!  Likewise, no one wants to be shamed for giving.  And so, most folks actually don’t give at all; it is just too easy to divert your eyes from the bum and pretend you didn’t even see her.  Meanwhile those who do give are made to feel unwise.  So, no, I don’t find many defending the idea.

Think you should give your money to a charity instead?  One that will use it wisely?  Yes, this is the conventional wisdom.  (Either that or buy food for the bum and take the potential drug abuse out of the equation.)  There are charitable organizations in the field staffed with professionals who know how to care for the poor and homeless, and you can give your money to them, sit back and feel confident that you have done your part.

But what if things aren’t so simple?

This blog regularly defends the practice of giving a few dollars to a bum – largely on theological/biblical grounds.  Honestly, I think that is the important vantage ground to work from anyway.  But then just today, my internet search has led me to an article that calls these usual assumptions and common sense reactions into question on more “practical’ grounds.  And, well, I find this article, even from this vantage ground, quite compelling.  I hope you will check it out.  And I would really love to hear back from you after reading it.

Here is the link:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/is-begging-just-a-scam-or-a-lifeline-for-those-most-in-need-a7371516.html?cmpid=facebook-post

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18 comments

  1. T. F. Thompson · November 30

    Jesus says to give. He didn’t ask to question motives. Too, give to a church and we know how wise they spend it. the same would be for the govt or even if we ourselves spend our money wisely. Aside from that you aren’t even giving to that dirty rotten no good bum anyway: We are giving it to Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · November 30

      Amen!

      Giving it to Jesus. That IS the BOTTOM LINE.

      If you read the article linked, it gave a lot of practical wisdom. Not what I usually champion. But I must say, I think it broadened my worldview a bit nonetheless. There is such a strong knee-jerk reaction to giving to bums – and seminars, blogs, and books (I always target the book When Helping Hurts) that then go on to support the knee-jerk reaction. It is a rare find to see someone else making the case even on other grounds!

      One thing I don’t think I saw in the article, though your comment here comes very near it, is that the charities/ministries actually take to the public airwaves and newsprint to instruct us NOT to give money to bums for the usual reasons, but instead to GIVE THE MONEY TO THEM! Now, most of the time, this comes from good motives, I think. But it completely overlooks the conflict of interest there, and with the stigma the bums endure, there is practically no accountability placed on those ministers! That system is ripe for abuse! And I have seen evidence that abuse does happen.

      Thanx so much for your comment! I hope others will join the discussion!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Agent X · November 30

    I actually found the article linked on another blog. The post on that blog also got me to thinking about treating the bum with dignity. This was a concern for the blogger, though he did not want to offer cash for the afore mentioned reasons. It was after reading the article he linked that he found cause to rethink his giving (or withholding).

    But what began eating on me was how he tried to treat a bum with dignity by looking him in the eye, greeting him cordially, perhaps even listening to his story etc… But then purposefully would not give cash because he did not trust the guy to use it wisely. And I cant help but think that in the end that interaction is actually a betrayal of dignity, even though the guy was trying so hard to “get it right”.

    That is a danger we “Christian” types must deal with, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. T. F. Thompson · November 30

    The fact is: they see a bum and not a person. People who really care about people attempt to feed the heart. Heck, that might even mean a beer is involved. So what? I’m more concerned about his salvation. I don’t care that he takes a drink. Let the giver list their sins instead. And when we do that, we are all counted GUILTY.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Agent X · November 30

    Yeah.. Proverbs 31:6-7 – give them booze so they can forget their poverty! It’s biblical!

    Let the giver list his/her own sins instead… then we are all on an equal footing!

    Ouch! That really takes it to the next level!!! Thanx for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Debi · November 30

    I love how your blog makes me think. I’d like to share this on my facebook page “Jesus House Western Maryland.” (Please feel free to join if it won’t blow your cover.) It’s a new-ish page where I try to be all about love. This share would be the first potentially controversial post. Hope you don’t mind. 🙂 ♥ I especially love your idea of sharing a meal with the homeless. Currently I am recovering from a bad fall and can’t get out of the house without help (I live alone), but at some point, I hope to have another person or two from Jesus House go with me to share a meal with whomever God chooses for us in downtown Cumberland.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · November 30

      Please do share it. I have a few referrals from fb once in a while. Sometimes I know who referred, and sometimes I don’t. Either way is okay with me.

      I personally do not use fb. If your page is open for nonusers to view, I will look at it. But I will not share on fb, largely due to identity.

      So glad to have you. I pray you heal and get better quickly. I am so excited for you to share a meal with Jesus on the streets! I hope you will leave a brief account of it here when you do. Perhaps a link to your fb, if you tell more there…

      KIT

      X

      Like

      • Debi · November 30

        The group is public, so maybe you can view it. In case you can’t, here’s a description…

        This is a different kind of church. We have invited Jesus to live here with us, and you never know what he will look like from one day to the next. So we try to walk with Jesus, talk with Jesus, and be like Jesus to those who need him. As the song says, “Let them see You in me; let them hear You when I speak…”

        We have no church building, for we *are* the church. We won’t need your money to pay a pastor or a mortgage. Perhaps at some point we will meet in an existing building, but we won’t add to the huge number of church buildings that have to take offerings and tithes just to pay expenses. If ever we collect money, it will be for those in need.

        Who are we? We are a diverse group of God’s people. All are welcome. All.

        We are about Love — accepting it, feeling it, speaking it, showing it, spreading it, growing it…

        We are not about judgment. We are not called to that task. We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. [Matthew 22: 37, 39]
        [end of description]

        Thank you for the prayers. So far I have been healing nicely. And I will definitely let you know when we are able to hit the streets.

        God’s blessings on your house, your little ones, and all to whom you minister!

        Debi

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Larry Who · November 30

    The Lord dealt with me years ago about what to do if a street person or bum asked for money. He told me to just reach in my pocket and give. Period. (Luke 6:30) Have the bums and beggars used my money for alcohol and drugs? Maybe, but I don’t know. Yet, I do know this: my heart has been softened and changed by my giving with no strings attached to people who can do little to ever benefit me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · November 30

      Luke 6:30! Amen, Brutha, Amen!!

      And while we are in Luke, how about 1:53? That one hits a nerve with me.

      Yes, when you give like your giving to Jesus, you no longer see the problem and not the person, but you see the person. And that person is your LORD.

      I know that softens my heart.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Debi · November 30

      I had a similar message from God many, many years ago. ♥

      Like

      • Tam · December 3

        Really? I would’ve thought you’d disagree based on conversations.

        Like

  7. Bob Aldridge · November 30

    I think treating the homeless with dignity is the key whether you give them cash or buy them a meal or give them water or a blanket. I can certainly understand someone not wanting to give cash and I don’t have a problem with that choice. Each situation may be different depending on how you feel, you may feel threatened or unsafe pulling out your wallet to give cash.

    I’ve done all of the above and I’m sure that there were times the person I gave cash to used it for their entertainment. The point is to give of your self or be selfless not selfish. Matt: 25:35-46

    Bob A.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · November 30

      Bob!

      Thanx for sharing.

      I don’t always give cash. Frequently I don’t have any OR I have something better/more suitable (for instance I met a lady at the bus stop one day who needed bus fare. I wound up giving her a ride across town and sharing Jesus with her the whole way. She just thought she needed bus fare, when really she needed a ride from Jesus.

      I do not want to sound like I think you must give cash. Sometimes it just isn’t the way to go (Acts 3:6). But I do challenge the idea that you should not give cash. That is the prevalent thinking among Christians/conservatives. I challenge it on multiple grounds – especially biblical grounds.

      And you are right about giving yourself and not being selfish. That is right at the nub of Christian faith.

      Like

  8. John Lewis · November 30

    To give unconditionally. I just, personally, get overwhelmed. I feel guilty for NOT giving. But I simply can’t afford to give to everyone. Or can I? I sometimes feel a call to simply put some if this in my own monthly budget, just some “throw” money to give to people asking. I get asked sometimes 15-20 times per day. I don’t hold it against any if them individually, but I do get overwhelmed some days by the number of times I’m asked. Then I get frustrated, then I feel bad for being frustrated.

    But yes..give without conditions. Like someone in there said….it might be the only moment someone feels “visible”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · November 30

      Thanx so much for participating!

      I am sorry you get overwhelmed. I suppose sometimes I do, but that is not usually an issue for me. Still, I wonder if we don’t see it in Jesus when he withdraws from the crowds to pray alone. They are soooooooo needy and clingy. They press in on all sides sometimes. If you are a Christian, shouldn’t this be your experience? At least sometimes? And in the opening of Mark’s narrative, when Jesus raises Peter’s Ma-in-law from her fever (Yes, the Greek word for what he did there means “Raise” just like a few others he raises from the dead, though she is not dead yet, she is raised! But that is a discussion of Mark for another time), any way, apparently Jesus needs to withdraw and pray and this actually gets Peter and the disciples upset and searching for him early in the morning (a foreshadow of another morning when it will be reported he is not in the tomb). Where was he?

      I am not sure the text explains that he was overwhelmed and therefore withdrew to pray, but I think it is a very likely and worthwhile deduction.

      So, I would say, when you are feeling overwhelmed by the masses of needy who come to you for the light and love of God you have to give, you have good precedent to withdraw and pray. And I hope you will.

      As for myself, I am a street minister. I tend (not always, but tend) to thrive on the interactions I can find out there on the streets. For me, that is the rush! That is my gateway to more, to deeper relationship, to a tour of the devestation! I have found myself lured into motel rooms at fleabag joints where I knelt to pray with folks and when I got up to leave, suddenly I deeply feared that I might have picked up bedbugs on my clothing or on my satchel. Fortunately that never happened, YET, but it always could. And if and when it does, I expect I will feel overwhelmed.

      Also, I figure I turn my frustration toward the church! Jesus tells those disciples on the sea shore in front of the 5000, “You feed them!” And of course his disciples are clueless about doing that. They still are. Nevertheless, they dare to embody the Lord, so they have a responsibility to step up. I cant do it by myself. I can only do it as PART of that WHOLE. I am happy to take a lead role, but then I turn around and start lighting fires under the church for all I am worth.

      John, I am so glad you responded here. I hope my words open your imagination. I do not know what you should do, I merely have these suggestions and this framework within which to operate. Perhaps you will find clarity that I don’t even see or suggest.

      X

      Liked by 2 people

      • John Lewis · November 30

        Thanks for sharing this X. And again, thank you for your ministry. We are unconditionally and unquestionably called by Christ to care for the poor, the foreigner, he widowed and the orphaned. So, it is quite simply a weakness of mine which I need to address. Not in the mechanical, rule following sense, but in my heart-sense. I am still in many ways hard hearted.

        I’m not sure I am called specifically to be a street minister like you. I am called specifically to share his good news with others, and I am called specifically to be there to share my story with others in the hopes of helping them to find the healing, hope and restoration (resurrection??) that can only be found in Jesus Christ. I do have a specific ministry in my church, and I believe I have a gift in writing that I can use in ministry here to share his word with whoever might take the time to read it.

        I am also specifically called to be kind to others, to look out for those who have less, whatever the reason. So while I may not be specifically seeking the homeless, I am certainly not to specifically avoid them either. Quite simply, we are all specifically called to have compassion to all.

        Liked by 2 people

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