While on a recent family outing to Louisville, as we were walking along the riverfront walk, a man approached me asking for a quarter.  I’ve often been approached over the years by panhandlers asking for money, and I usually give them something.  I’ve heard many people over the years discuss how they address such situations.  Some are skeptical about giving money to such people, expecting that perhaps the money will be used simply to buy drugs or alcohol.  There is simply no way to know for sure how such money will be used just by looking at a person.  It may be true that the people asking for money will not spend it in the way that they say (they always approach with some kind of story about dire need for something).  After thinking long and hard about these situations in the past, I finally came to the conclusion that, since I have no way of knowing for sure in a short encounter whether the person will use the money appropriately, then I simply must go with my conscience and heart, showing compassion for the person who has obviously fallen on hard times, and I give the money, leaving it up to God as to how the money will be used. 

After giving a dollar to this man on the sidewalk in Louisville, more than he had requested, I afterwards explained to my family why I had given the money and explained that I usually do respond to such people by giving them something.  I explained that I believe as the quote goes, “There but for the grace of God go I” (attributed to John Bradford while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London).  This old saying contains much wisdom because it is so easy to judge our fellow person when we see them in hard times and think that we would never let ourselves fall to such a state.  But thinking in this way dismisses the tremendous role of God in blessing us such that we never fall to such conditions.  It is because of the grace of God that we have so many blessings and that we never get to such a state of misfortune.  As such, I never take pride in my own situation and judge others that are not so fortunate, remembering the admonition from 1 Corinthians 4:7: “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Another reason that I gave to my family for always giving money in such situations is that I believe I am “my brother’s keeper.”  We all know the story of Cain and Abel and how Cain murdered his brother out of jealousy over God favoring Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s, most likely because of the spirit in which the gifts were given, with Abel giving out of the abundance of joy in his heart, loving God, and Abel simply giving out of obligation and the expectation of something in return, i.e. God’s favor or God’s blessing.  In other words, Cain was giving not purely out of love but as a kind of quid pro quo, hoping to gain something back, sort of a bargain with God.  We also know after he murdered his brother, and was confronted by God about the act, Cain uttered those famous words, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).  Of course, we know that Cain was just being sarcastic, which indicates that he had absolutely no guilt over the act, thinking himself justified.  He was playing with fire, of course.  It is bad enough to sin, worse yet to take the life of another human being, but to act as arrogant as this to God’s face was inviting the wrath of a Holy and Righteous God.  I think that God’s response, while certainly punishing Cain, was an example of His Amazing Compassion since He didn’t just flame Cain right there on the spot. 

More on this tomorrow.  I pray that you will walk in close fellowship with God today and be filled with His peace, joy, power, and wisdom. 

 


Comments

04/19/2017 4:36am

I am sorry my friend but God does not support those who are lethargic and beg whilst having the capability to earn. By giving them money you are not showing compassion but are pushing them more towards a life of sins. Please do not encourage people who approach you for money as it is a very big business.

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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