I don’t know about you, but when I see someone holding up a cardboard sign asking for money I question their honesty. Are they really going to spend the money on food? Perhaps they are just choosing not to work because tax free money pays well. Or, maybe, there’s something more I should be considering . . . .
Proverbs 28:27 NIV states:
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
Ouch. That sounds like me in my car when I try to ignore their pleas for help.
The Bible makes it clear that we are to help those in need. But how are we to know if someone is in need? Can we really know if those begging on the streets are really poor? And if they are poor, doesn’t the fact that they live in America make them among the richest in the world?
It may not be possible to know if certain beggars are really poor, but obviously they need some direction in their lives to make a better living for themselves. Maybe they need someone to look them in the eye and treat them with respect. Perhaps some of them really can’t find a way out of their situation, and they would just like to know someone cares.
Proverbs is saying that if we give to the poor, we’re going to lack nothing. It also says that if we turn our heads, close our eyes, and ignore the poor, we’re going to receive many curses. These are pretty good motivators for doing the right thing.
But perhaps the next question we should ask ourselves is how we should give to the poor. I think there are a few things we should keep in mind here . . . .
First of all, we should manage our money for God and give when we see honest, true need. Maybe we hear of someone who needs something and we don’t have any reason to doubt it. Perhaps we see someone in a difficult situation that we can address. Or perhaps we have some inside knowledge on the individual standing outside with the cardboard sign and know they really need help.
Second, we should view our giving as an investment into the lives of needy individuals, and not do it out of what we would hope to get in return. When giving, it is usually best to do so anonymously if possible. It’s not always wise or possible to give anonymously, but I’d have to say that the majority of the time it certainly is.
Again, Proverbs is telling us that we should give to the poor. Pretty straightforward, right? It’s making clear the consequences of not giving – and we should heed that warning – but moreover we should give to those we know who are in need because it is the right thing to do.
Knowing when and how to give are complicated issues. But if we listen to the Holy Spirit, I have a feeling we’ll be prompted to give more than we currently do.
What do you think about giving to the poor? Leave a comment!