Should we give money to someone begging at the traffic signal?
Many say, “Absolutely not! Because he will only buy booze?” But then again suppose he is legitimate and is out of work exactly as his sign says? Now we see that we missed an opportunity to give our change to someone who needs it. What should we do in situations when we just don’t know what to do?
Let’s consider what’s happening here. How much were we going to give to this beggar? Is it one hundred dollars or one dollar? If it is one hundred dollars, we may have second thoughts, but if it is only one dollar, we may not be so rigid in our judgment. There’s little damage anyone can do with one dollar. And he at least can get a cup of hot coffee.
On second thought the Lord doesn’t say to us, “Be sure you analyze carefully the situation before you give a beggar any money. We don’t want him spending the money on something that can harm him or his family?” The Lord does say only one thing, “What you do to these the least of my children you do for me?
I think that is the main point. The way we adore our God is the way we treat our fellow humans. He invites us saying, “Honor me when you honor your neighbor.” These two actions are really the same. We are not giving to the beggars we are giving to Christ. In fact, this is the best way to give to a needy neighbor, to see Jesus in him or her every time.
That’s a better way to handle this kind of a struggle. Most beggars won’t get into trouble with the amount of change we give. Simply follow the Lord’s directive, to help, small as it may be.
We simply close our eyes and see Jesus there and then give your change to Jesus. We know he won’t spend it on booze or drugs, and everyone is pleased: you, the beggar, and Jesus. “What you do for the least of these, you do for me.”