I think it is worthwhile to play devil’s advocate and look at situations from both sides and giving to the poor is an issue that most everyone will deal with at some point in their lives.
Working within the city limits I run across homeless guys often, in fact I have seen one guy begging every morning, on the same corner for at least the last two years. I have talked to him a little bit too, and it seems to be a similar situation. I have given him some food from time to time, but I wonder if I am doing more harm than good.
Obviously, the Bible makes it very clear that we are to give to the poor . There are countless verses to support this.
But, it also says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”
What if by giving to a beggar it was actually HARMING them, by only perpetuating the problem?
Genuine love doesn’t always do what people want, it does what is BEST for them. Just as a loving mother wouldn’t let her toddlers play with a loaded gun even if they really wanted to, maybe loving some beggars is to NOT give them food or money. I know it sounds absurd, but that is why I am bringing it up (Devil’s advocate, remember?). Could it be possible that some beggars(who are fully capable of working) would stop begging and get motivated to get a job, if people didn’t keep giving to them.
I am not sure if it is true or not, but I heard that the “Naked Cowboy” from New York City collects over $250,000 a year from basically just being a beggar with “style.” If a “normal” beggar is getting plenty of cash from begging, then why should the look for a job?
Just as with any addiction, the difficulty of breaking it is based on the length of time that it has existed. If this is the case, then giving to a beggar is “addicted” to laziness could actually be harming them by sustaining the “addiction.” If no one gave to him, he would have more incentive to find a job.
The tricky thing about this is that we never know the whole situation and we have to be led by the Holy Spirit when making these decisions. After all, who are we to judge? God knows what is going on in the beggar’s life and what will help them the most.
I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.