This year has left many people in need. And, as I sit at a traffic light in my city, I notice more people begging for help on the corner. They hold signs asking for help. Some say things like, “Unemployed, need food” or “Wife sick, need help” I am sure all of us encounter such scenes around our cities and towns. But, begging for help is getting more commonplace, especially with the effects of COVID on our society. What do you do when you see someone asking for help?
Someone called into a Christian radio station this morning to say they had recently given money to a person begging. Now they feel guilty because they were not sure if that was that the right thing to do. Also, the caller worried about what the man would do with the money she gave him. Do we judge those begging as undeserving of our help?Do we judge those begging as undeserving of our help? Click To Tweet
Many people I talked with over the years have strong opinions on this subject. Some of the arguments include that they will probably just buy drugs or alcohol with the money I give them. Or another one is that they are capable of working, and they are just being lazy. But, are these arguments just excuses to get us off the hook of helping others? As Christians, what is our responsibility towards those we see begging in the streets of our cities?
Let’s turn to the authority on this topic, our Bible. Many verses in the Bible talk about poverty and about helping others. The one that I think address this question most directly is found in the gospel of Matthew:
“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”Matthew 5:42
I don’t think it gets much more direct than that verse. But most of us are still concerned about the motives of those begging for help. When we do not give because of our perception of how the person will use the money, we become judge and jury. We think we know their motives, and we do not want to contribute to their bad choices in life. So we do not give.
But, it is only Jesus that knows the true motives of the heart. I believe there are times when the Lord presses it upon my heart to give to a particular homeless person, and that is when I give. I think the Lord’s prompting needs to be our driving force in giving to those begging for help.God knows the heart and motives of those begging, and I have to rely on Him to direct me. Click To Tweet
God knows the heart and motives of those begging, and I have to rely on Him to direct me. I also can give items instead of money. For example, in the hot weather, I carry unopened water bottles in my car to hand out. Another example includes making up bags of toiletries to hand out. I believe I am called to help those the Lord shows to me and not judge them. And, if I don’t give when the Lord directs me, then I will be held accountable someday for my actions. When we do donate to someone, we should give with a joyful heart and not grumble, as shown in the Bible verse below:
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”2 Corinthians 9:7
Several other Bible verses show us what we might be missing out on if we do not help those that the Lord directs us to help. In Hebrews, we find that sometimes that beggar may not be whom they seem to be:
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”Hebrews 13:2
That person begging for help might be an angel in disguise. And, if the Lord directs me to help someone and I do not, then someday when I get to heaven, I might hear the Lord speak these words found in Matthew to me directly:
“42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. 45 He will reply, Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”Matthew 25:42-45
I understand that not everyone begging for help is in actual need of help. Not every one begging for help is homeless or helpless. But, as Christians, our responsibility is to rely on God. So, if God directs you to give to someone standing on a street corner, you should give and not think about it again. Let God be their judge. In this year of COVID, let’s be extra generous this Christmas season.
God, thank you for the abundance of life, relationships, health, comfort, and wealth you have provided, and thank you that even in times of need, despair, and brokenness, you are there. Please, put your arms around children and families in extreme poverty, so they feel comfort and hope; meet their needs both physically and spiritually. And, Lord, guide me so I can be your hands and feet pursuing justice for the poor and upholding the cause of the needy. Amen
Yvonne M. Morgan is an author, blogger, and speaker.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
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47 thoughts on “Begging for Help”
I used to worry about what people did with the money my family gave. Then, I remembered. My place is not to judge. My place is to show God’s love to everyone. Great message Yvonne.
Thanks Melissa. We are called to love and help. We are so quick to judge those who need help. Thanks for sharing and God bless
So good. Often we get an “us” vs. “them” mentality when serving others… we think “we” are helping “them” or serving “them.” But it’s an honor to serve others. Thinking of it as “serving with” or “in ministry with” helps me wrap my head around this concept.
It is the best way of thinking about it. So many do think of it as us vs them when we are all God’s children. Thanks Jessica and God bless.
Thank you for these reminders to give and not to judge. And when we do have legitimate concerns about giving money, I especially like the aspects of helping with practical items, too.
We just need to remember to give to those in need as God commanded. Thanks Ava and God bless.
It’s even more important this year to remember those around us who are in need. Great post!
Thanks Nancy. This year has left so many more people in need this year. Thanks and God bless.
Such an important reminder, Yvonne. For some time, I traveled a certain route with several people begging on the corners. So I packed paper bags with food, water and hygiene supplies. I kept them in a plastic bin in my car. So whenever I saw someone begging, I passed them a ready-made bag of supplies. For those who are torn about what to do, this may be a small way to show that you see and are willing to help. Not everyone has cash in their wallets anymore, so this helps with that situation, as well..
One word of consideration, recently in our area, a woman was stabbed to death through the window of her car when she offered to give cash to a man begging by the roadside. My kids were upset because they knew that could have been me. We do need to trust God in all things, even in the face of death. May we pray for His wisdom and leading in this and all things.
Yes, of course, good advice. I always pray for God’s wisdom in how I help others and trust Him to lead. There are so many ways to help. Thanks Melissa and God bless
If God is nudging us to give to someone in need, it’s best to trust God and not worry about whether the person receiving the gift will use it well or not. Why people are in the situation they are in is not our problem; what God calls us to do is love. Not everyone will do what is right with the gift given, but everyone can be loved regardless. We remember that when we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us. Not all of us have received his gift of salvation, but the sacrifice was still made and offer still stands.
Amen Marcie. It is the gift of love that God gives so freely that we should be as generous also. Thanks and God bless
Yvonne, this is a superb post! So powerful! You’ve spelled out the thought processes that every Christian should go through when approaching someone in need. The sermon Jesus gave near the end of his life is downright terrifying, for The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats informs us that if we ignore the needy, we’re probably not a believer. That should scare us into action, if we haven’t already acted out of love for the Savior. The Lord has a mission for each of us, and sometimes simply handing someone some water is what is required. This is not something small. It is of great significance. Letting the Lord direct us is good advice. The parable tells us many of the needs that we are called upon to meet – hungry, sick, in prison, thirty. There are many needs.
And the need is increasing because of the virus. I think another way we can make a difference is with our tipping too because they might be struggling. I am always surprised when wait staff or delivery people complain about how poorly Christian’s tip. We should be known as the most generous in all ways. Thanks and God bless.
Fresh insight on this often controversial discussion, Yvonne. I agree with your perspective to ask the Lord and the Holy Spirit to speak to us and give us discernment. For years, I’ve been asking the Lord for divine appointments throughout any given day. Around my neighborhood and especially running errands or driving to appointments. If I see someone with a sign and I feel the tug on my heart, I turn around and go back. And besides giving money, sometimes I go in a local place and buy food, etc. Sometimes I feel led to just hand them cash.
Amen Karen. Thanks fir your thoughtful insights. God bless.
This is a hard situation because as Christians we are called to be good stewards of what God has given us, so that does come with responsibility. But we are also told not to judge others. Fortunately, God knows the hearts and can give us wisdom and discernment!
Yes God will direct us to the right decision in His name. Thanks and God bless
This is a time to not only look after ourselves but to look after others too. And for many, when we are helping others, it really makes us feel better too.
Yes it does help all those involved and so many need help in these days. Thanks Sacha and God bless.
Such a timely reminder – thank you Yvonne for your insights. I love the idea of keeping water bottles and toiletry packs in the car to hand out especially when you’re concerned the gift of money may not be used in the way intended. I know some buy hot drinks or sandwiches to hand out which seems a good idea too.
I think the need is so much greater this year because of COVID-19. God wants us to help others, especially at the holidays. There are so many ways to make a difference. Thanks for your comments Helen and God bless.
Important Discussion Yvonne!
Thanks so much. God bless.
I have had friends tell me that I shouldn’t give because of the same reason, the homeless person will use the money for drinking or drugs. But I believe that the act of giving is never cancelled out by the receiver’s misuse of the gift. Thank you for this beautiful eye opening post! Loved it!
Thanks so much Donna. I think for some people, it makes them feel better to have a reason not to give. But, God’s word tells us something very different. Thanks for commenting and God bless.
This is so true! I agree we should always help out people in need because if it was us we would want people to do the same and not question our motives. It is not up to us to question what they will do with it but instead just give.
Thanks Tona. So many people are in need especially this year. We must set the example for the world to follow. God bless.
You nailed on the topic of giving to those who beg! Perfectly stated, and I wouldn’t add or take away anything. Thank you!
Thank you so much Summer. I really appreciate your comment. God bless you.
Hi, Yvonne! I love this post so much! Give with a cheerful heart and let God do the judging! Thank you for the wonderful reminder!
It is so important for Christians to be thought of as generous just like God is with us. Matthew 5:42 is so clear about it. Thanks Sheryl for commenting. God bless.
Thanks so much for this message. We need to demonstrate our love for others by helping and giving. We are not to consider others undeserving of our help. God bless you for this reminder.
They will know we are Christians by our love. Thanks Kristie and God bless
I loved this, Yvonne. So good, clear, concise, and biblically supported.
It is a challenging situation – making decisions about whether or not to help people on street corners for all the reasons you say. Your quoting Matthew 5:42 does sum up Jesus’ instructions about it. I have come to think about the situation this way: If they are truly in need, then I should be compassionate and help. If they are not truly in need, if they could be working, etc., then I still should have compassionate because there is something broken about standing on a street corner and begging if you don’t have real need.
My favorite verse on sharing with those begging or the poor in other situations is Proverbs 19:10,
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay them in full.”
That is another wonderful verse. Our human hearts want to make the situation challenging but God wants us to be compassionate in all circumstances. Thanks for adding your thoughts Pam. God bless.
We live in a small midwestern town and rarely see people asking for help on the side of the road, but there was someone near Walmart last week and it started me thinking. Your post was totally in line with what God was impressing on my heart. Such a confirmation. Thank you!
Amen. We do need to seek the Lord’s guidance on such matters and His words seems to make it very clear on how we should respond. Stay safe and God bless
Thank you Heather. I appreciate your encouragement. God bless
So wise! Your statement “if God directs you to give to someone standing on a street corner, you should give and not think about it again” is spot on. Such a great post. Thanks!
So many people are struggling this year. I feel this is a time for Christians who are able help others. Thanks for commenting and God bless.
This is a great topic, my approach has always been to allow God lead me, and when in doubt, I give material things instead of money.
Amen my sister. That is a wonderful approach to the situation. Thank you and God bless.
Thank you for this post. It is a touchy and difficult subject at times in how to handle a person begging in a Godly manner. My husband is an Anglican minister and we had to establish a policy of directing people to our St. Vincents de Paul ministry because we were being abused over our givings. We would give what little we have and find it thrown away down the road because it wasn’t what the person wanted. Meanwhile we went without the luxury that we had given away. However we keep extra coats in our car for anyone we come across on the streets that may need one. Unfortunately in Ireland we have crime gangs that ‘set up’ people to beg on the street- so the genuine person needing help can get missed.
So very sorry to hear of the struggles. It can be hard to find the genuine person in need. Sometimes God call us to help someone in the street who is not in genuine need because He wants them to learn about love. God’s ways can be hard for us to understand
I want to say THANX for blogging about this… especially with an open-minded critical thinking approach.
This kind of stuff is important to me too. I write and talk about these matters frequently. Please let me invite you and your readers to further conversation on this and related topics. Here are a couple links I would love to share:
Thanks for sharing