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To Give or Not to Give?

     This is not a very well planned article. In fact, it is pretty raw and in the end, it is just a question. What is the right thing to do? Should every Christ follower give to every homeless person that asks? I should know the answer to that at my age, but I just don’t.
      Here is the deal. Yesterday morning in Nashville, I purchased a newspaper from a homeless vendor for the first time. It is a great system and I think it is a good idea but I almost never have cash on me and when I am in Nashville and do have cash, I am not in the right position to do this. Yesterday, I was in the right place at the right time and felt pretty good about the choice.

     Today, while exiting the interstate, there was a homeless man “flying a sign,” in the vernacular of the homeless. It just said, “Homeless and hungry. Please help.” The problem is I had cash in my pocket and I was close enough to do something for him, though it would have been inconvenient for me and the people behind me on the ramp. Where he was standing was both dangerous and illegal. I thought about it and for a few seconds, debated what to do. By the time, I decided, it was too late. I missed my chance.
     Here are some of the thoughts that flooded my mind in that brief time.

  • “That could be me. After all, this time last year, I was completely unemployed.”
  • “I don’t have much money on me and it really needs to last me through the weekend.”
  • “That could be one of those “angels unaware” the Bible speaks of.”
  • “People behind me are going to get impatient if I block traffic long enough to help him.”
  • “I am so selfish.”
  • “This is not going to stand the ‘Matthew 25’ test.”
  • “He doesn’t need to be doing this right here.”
  • “I helped a guy yesterday. Doesn’t that count?”
  • “How discouraging must it be to get turned down that many times?”

     In the end, none of that matters. I missed my chance. Delaying the decision made the decision. I know all the cliches and all the Bible verses, but in the end, I still wonder. What is the right thing to do? Even worse, maybe I already know the answer and just don’t want to admit it.
     What do you think? What is our responsibility to the beggar in this horrible economy?

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