When Truth Becomes an Excuse...
The other day, I passed a homeless woman who characteristically asked me for spare change. I told her I didn’t have any, which was probably a lie. I didn’t take time to check because I don’t think I would have given her money even if I had found a wad of it in my back pocket. As I walked away, I cringed at the irony of my serving the homeless at a rescue mission and ignoring them on the streets.
What’s the great turn-off about giving homeless people money? I suppose it’s the age old “You don’t know what they’ll do with it” argument, which can be very valid. True, there are homeless people who will ask for money to buy food and then use it to buy drugs. Even worse, we’ve all heard stories of people who feign homelessness to take advantage of peoples’ kindness.
But then there are the others.
There’s the lady I saw last week who was thin as a rail and digging through a subway trash bin. There’s the man I pass on the sidewalk each morning who sIeeps in a disheveled pile of meager blankets and belongings. There are dozens who make their way to Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission each day just to receive supper and a bed.
What about these?
“They need to get a job,” I’ve grown up saying. This is probably true, but I don’t suppose it’s helping them when I make such an obvious statement and move on with my life. If America has college graduates who are hard pressed to find work, how much more difficult might it be for a homeless person to do so? And don’t forget; there are also many United States Veterans that are homeless today. And not everyone that is homeless is a drug addict or mentally ill and even if they are isn’t an excuse for being indifferent.
We can’t always give food, and we shouldn’t always give money. However, while it may be true that the best ways to help the homeless are more complex than giving them a hand-out, we shouldn’t let this truth be an excuse for inaction on our part.
Especially as Christians, we are called by the Lord to act on behalf of the less fortunate. The Bible is full of verses that deal with this issue (you can find some of them here).
So how, then, are we called to act when approached by a homeless person on the street? Much of our response may be based on specific circumstances such as our age, level of comfort in the neighborhood, etc. I think the key lies in our attitude and genuine interest in loving people.
If you live in the city and know you’ll likely come across needy people (and not just the homeless; we all need each other) on your way to work or school, consider packing an extra sandwich, piece of fruit, or granola bar in your backpack. When someone says they need money for food, offer them one of these things instead. If you have time and feel it is appropriate, you may even buy a snack for someone on the spot. Beyond food, sometimes the biggest thing people need is a person to listen or understand them or maybe a genuine smile or even go the extra mile and extend an understanding hand, listening ear or warm hug.
If the best thing you can give is a kindly spoken word or a smile, give it. Maybe it is within your power to help them get rebooted in life then dammit do it!!! I know it may inconvenience your schedule but remember Jesus; He never turned anyone away and even went out of His way to heal all who came across His path.
My question to you is: “What are you doing to do to become part of the solution?”
Are you just going to slam the door of your heart & mind putting all thoughts of them to bed hoping to bury their memories while you wallow in your neatly packaged life? That’s not what Christ would do; He would back up His words with direct action towards an individual or a group with an intended purpose to restore completely.
Christ committed His entire life and ministry to the oppressed, the homeless and the broken.
Jesus came to set the captives free. (Galatians 5:1)
“And after reading this, what are your plans for tomorrow?”
Whatever you choose to do today or tomorrow, keep in mind the dignity of the human heart. We are all made in God’s image, and that’s a truth that should call us to loving action on a daily basis and a daily reminder not to judge from the outside looking in but to know that there is a heart and a lifetime underneath all of that outer dishevelment and obvious disorder. That is where we are supposed to come in and become the hands and heart of Christ. If not me, then who? If not now, when?
Consider Voluteering Time, Money or Effort To Some of the following:
Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission www.sundaybreakfast.org/ Homelessness Men in Philadelphia Receive Foot Care · Jan. 20 Concert Set to BenefitSunday Breakfast Rescue Mission · Home | About Us | What We Do | Get …