She walked up as I was putting groceries in the car. My immediate not-so-charitable thought was, “I guess she wants money.” Then she asked if she could help me. I said, “no, thank you. I can get it.” She chatted a little, about nothing in particular. I loaded my groceries quickly. She handed me the last bag – she really had tried to help me, but I wouldn’t let her. Then she took the shopping cart as if to go put it where it belonged. I thanked her, and she asked if I might have a couple of dollars to spare. She wanted to buy some meat, but couldn’t afford it until her check arrived.
If we pay attention, we can see a different version of this scenario every day. The man approaching everyone pumping gas in front of a convenience store that also happens to be a liquor store. Another man standing on the street corner with a sign because he has a young family to support. The young woman needing gas to get… somewhere. You’re really not sure where because you can’t keep up with her story. You know them. They’re the ones most people try to avoid eye contact with.
What would you do? How would you react?
To be honest, most of us don’t want to see these people. We would rather ignore their existence. It’s much easier that way. Who wants to give up their hard-earned money to people who won’t help themselves? The guy at the gas station? He just wants to buy more booze. The young man on the street corner? He’s probably too lazy to get a job. The girl needing gas is telling a whopper of a story – it can’t be true. And the lady in the grocery store parking lot needs to better manage her money. Now that we’ve justified ignoring these folks, we can go about our business.
God’s Word tells us these people ARE our business. Over and over again, Scripture instructs us to help others. The Bible does not say, “give to the poor, but only if (fill in the blank).” When we give change to a stranger, or even a significant amount of money, we won’t get a report on how it was spent. Maybe it was spent on alcohol or drugs. Maybe it bought a meal for someone hungry. It doesn’t matter. What matters is our obedience to our Heavenly Daddy. He was very specific with His instructions.
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
This verse was directed at the Israelites after Moses led them out of Egypt. That doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to us. Just replace “Israelites” with “humans.”
Father God also tells us some results of our obedience or lack of:
He who gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes [from their want] will have many a curse. Proverbs 28:27 AMP
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16
Romans 14:12 reminds us that “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” We will not have to give an account for anyone but ourselves. That’s why it doesn’t matter how we think the needy will spend any money we may give them. They will have to answer for their own actions. God won’t ask us what we think happened to the money. He will instead ask if we helped others.
In the first of the Gospels, Matthew tells us of a time when Jesus sat down on the Mount of Olives and answered His disciples’ questions about His second coming.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’
“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, 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.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?’
“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.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46
I know which side of the King I want to be on.
I’ve focused on giving money, but there are so many more ways to help someone. If you don’t want the man to buy liquor, buy him a meal. Fill his need, if you can, whatever it may be. Try to help the guy on the street corner get a job, or maybe his family has a specific need that can be helped.
The lady at the grocery store got the only cash I had – $2. It wasn’t much to me, but if she really needed groceries, every dollar counted. The girl who needed gas money caught me on a day I had money, and I gave her $20. A few months later she was in the news. She had been arrested for scamming people with the same story she told me. I could easily have used that incidence as an excuse to ignore the needs of others. However, I don’t consider myself to have lost or wasted my $20, because I was trying to help someone. She will have to answer for her own actions.
I leave you with one final verse to ponder.
You never know their story. Spread kindness today.
Please comment below and share how you help others.
*All Scripture is taken from New International Version (NIV), unless otherwise noted.