Vox Nova is pleased to present the following guest post from Candice Chaloupka.
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.” Matthew 25:35
I was at a faith sharing meeting the other day and the subject of giving to a beggar was brought up. Everyone had an opinion and the most common one centered around the concern of how the person would use the money. “What if they spend it on alcohol or drugs?” Was the question each lady in the group asked. It was the first concern they had when making the decision as to whether or not they would give money to the beggar.
I’ve asked this question of others and another perspective brought up was concerning someone who is not homeless but is on welfare. “When faced with the decision to give my money to someone it depends on the situation. I’m always willing to help someone who is willing to help themselves. But when I see a mom who wants money because she can’t buy food for her child but has money to buy cigarettes, then I’m not inclined to help. It’s hard to be charitable to somebody that doesn’t have their priorities straight.”
I have volunteered at homeless shelters and worked with families on welfare. It is very easy to become cynical when we see what seems to be an abuse of the system. There are some who who seem to take advantage of the assistance and make no effort to become self-sufficient. But God makes it
clear; the poor will always be with us.
Let’s face it, those of us in a position to give to others have worked hard for the money we have. It is natural to want to make sure our money is well spent. We want our hard-earned money to serve a purpose, to not be wasted on behaviors we do not approve of or on behaviors we judge to be why the
person is homeless or in welfare in the first place.
The problem with this thinking is that we make ourselves judges of others but God has made it clear that we are not to judge. It is not our job – it is his. Frankly, I find that to be a relief. I personally do not want the burden of having to judge others.
So what is our responsibility as Christians to those who are poor, who maybe made bad decisions? Jesus makes it clear. We are to give and give cheerfully!
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
– Deuteronomy 15:11
God commands that we take care of the poor, the oppressed, and the widowed. Why? I mean isn’t God all powerful – he could fix the problem, right? Sure he could but that leads me back to my argument about taking things for granted; by taking care of someone else, we are less selfish and self-centered.
Why will the poor always be with us? I do not know. Maybe it is so we have something to remind us of how much we do have. How many times have you seen someone destitute and thought, “Thank God that’s not me?” Without the poor, would we ever be able to appreciate having plenty?
So do we give the homeless person begging for some spare change? Yes. Will that person use it to buy food? Maybe not. Maybe they will go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol or maybe they will buy drugs. But instead of judging him or her, pray for the person and leave the judging up to God. You will be blessed for your charity even if the person spends it on something other than what you intended it for.
Candice Chaloupka, a writer, counselor and personal fitness trainer living in Bellevue, Iowa, makes it her mission to educate and inspire everyone to be healthy of body, mind and soul.