We all want to help the homeless, but not that addict over there.
Everyone knows that helping the homeless or the poor is a good and moral thing to do. However, people want to help those who deserve help. We envision showing kindness to a helpless person who has done nothing wrong in their life, someone cold and hungry on the street who will use your spare change responsibly.
However, when you see the person you gave a sandwich or spare change to the other day drinking or out of their head on drugs, you start to question whether they deserved your charity. I’ve heard people say, “there’s a reason they’re homeless” or “don’t give anything; they’ll just spend it on drugs” and “they’ve done it to themselves”.
People want to help an angelic perfect person, not a street beggar addicted to drugs. But I argue this. An addict, a gambler, someone with a troubled past is exactly the person who may find themselves homeless. The angelic street beggar with both impeccable manners and a perfect drug-free past simply doesn’t exist.
You may have endured hardship such as being in care or addictions and think, “well I’m not homeless or begging?” Despite this, you are not them. Some have the view that street beggars are not helping themselves by taking drugs. Proverbs 31:7 says: “Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more”. This reminds us not to judge the troubled for abusing substances but to acknowledge why they are seeking comfort from such means.
Ephesians 2:4-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works…”. This shows us that we don’t deserve grace, but it is a gift. In the same way, we shouldn’t give to the needy based on whether we think they deserve it or not. Give as God gave us grace – unconditionally and from love. We can’t know or judge whether beggars deserve charity, we don’t know what they’ve been through and we have no right to judge them for their situation. James 4:12: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?”
Lord, I pray that we would see opportunities around us to bless and help people in need. Teach us to think less about ourselves and more about others. Amen.
By Ella Johnson