This might sound stupid but I just wonder what anyone else thought. I went into town which is not a frequent occurrence. I was going to buy something not necessary but that I had wanted. While walking I saw a panhandler across the street and my thoughts turned to giving him the money instead. I choked at the last minute and made a right turn away. Did I sin by not going through with the impulse to give. This might be playing over again in my mind today because of the gospel “whatever you have done for the least of these” etc. I know it was not the best I could have done, but is that all it was. I know people argue that they will spend it all on drugs and booze but if I give money to someone I trust they will use it for whatever is most necessary to them at that time. who knows maybe they will die of the DTs if they don’t get a drink etc. on the flip side of that argument. what if I had given him the inordinately large ammount of money and he went and shot more bags of dope than usual and overdosed etc. I just don’t know. am I beating myself over the head for nothing? I just cannot reconcile the words in the gospel with my behavior when we are surrounded by these people so often. I have seen them everywhere and don’t know what the proper course of action is.
I don’t think it’s a sin. If you want to give money to help people, you should give it to a charity to make sure it gets put to good use.
I think it would have been a greater sin to give money to a panhandler than to give it in any other way. You could “use” the moment to remind yourself of giving and gone home to do some proper charitable planning. That is the best good that could have come of this scene.
The studies have shown that 90% of these panhandlers are freeloaders that are doing quite well.
A work friend of mine was at a gas station and some one came up to her at the pump with an empty can giving a story about needing gas to get to a construction job interview. She gave him $5. He walked straight to his car and drove off. Also,last year as the Seahawks were in the playoffs the 3 or 4 panhandlers we see in our 1.5 hour commute through Seattle were almost all wearing or flying replica Seahawk’s gear and flags. These are rather expensive to come by, but it was just too good for “business”. The 10% chance of giving to a real person that is truly down-on-their-luck and not part of a professional ring is not good stewardship of your treasure.
We are called to be good stewards of our money including our charities. Not casing our pearls to swine (swindlers).
You turned and went the other way, that could also be interpreted another way ,
Your Guardian Angle ,or something else told you that giving to this individual would be a waste , there are more deserving of your charity
Studies have shown that panhandlers (the ones of the study were those by roadside stop signs) were averaging about $30/hour. That is not $30/hour after taxes; that was net.
At one point I served as a board member of an alcohol alternative center. It was not a matter of arguing that panhandlers would use the money for drugs or alcohol, it was a given fact that many panhandlers had a drug or alcohol problem and would spend the money for that.
There are a multitude of programs for homeless - those with, and those without addictions, and those programs are always in need of financial support.
Panhandlers provide a very emotional trigger to those passing by. Emotions are not the best source of decision making; If you see one and you want to give them food or clothing that is fine (clothing always runs the risk of being traded for money for … you get the point). But to simply give them cash is not a wise decision, and it is not one based on any understanding of their condition, their status, or their true needs.
You have a very sensitive conscience.
That is good, but you must also be careful about it. So you don’t beat yourself up too fast.
I have a hypersesitive conscience too and I have asked myself such questions.
I have asked myself things like, if I gave a beggar “only” some bread, am i allowed to buy myself some chocolate on the same day?
On the other hand, I have often bought somebody something that I rarely treated myself to, being on a kind of low budget… and actually had to learn to not do that often, as I must also watch that i eat healthy enough.
But it is very very difficult.
I don’t know if this is about sin really. Or more about walking the fine line between loving ones neighbor and taking care of oneself.
Which should not be a contradiction at all.
People like you and me struggle with such things.
Here is another example (I don’t remember it exactly, it’s been a couple years or so, so this is an approximate rendering:) I went to visit an old lady at a home and then told her I had to go, and left… On the way back to the bus stop however I did stop at a used books stand and bought myself a book. Then I felt guilty and wasn’t sure whether or not I was allowed to read that book now, since it was like time stolen from the old lady.
A priest I told this to later quickly caught on and said I had to be careful to not go into scrupulosity.
It really depends on te situation, often.
Yeah, I know what you mean, you buy yourself a treat but then maybe he would have needed your money for something necessary, right?
But then, a lot of people would need our money for something necessary… does that mean, we are never allowed to buy anything we like?
Are we allowed to turn on the heater when it is not really freezing freezing cold when we could send the money we spend on electriciy respectively gas to a charity instead?
It may lead to… neverending questions.
Or total ascetism. Which can be something holy. But probably only if done for the right reasons.
I am sorry, probably I am throwing in more questions than i am answering. I basically wanted to say: I understand you; been there…
Maybe an option would be to just give him some change or buy him a cup of hot coffee when it’s cold and still leave yourself enough to buy what you needed.
Unless you are really CALLED (and not by scrupulosity, but with love in your heart) to spend the money on something else. Like, a relevation: I do not really need this.
Maybe I am wrong; I struggle myself with such things.
But you know what? At least you felt for the guy. A lot of people would not even have thought about it.
Anxway maybe it helps you that you are not alone with such questions
If a beggar asks you for money, you can always ask him if he wants you to buy him a sandwich or a coffee. Or you can give him a dollar or two without harming anybody. God bless you.
Like I said - those standing by stop signs, etc. are averaging $30 per hour. To posit that giving just a dollar is not going to harm anyone ignores the high number of homeless who have either problems with alcohol, drugs, or both.
Not harming anybody? Not harming the addict whom you provide the means of more drugs, or the alcoholic who can easily feed their habit at the next grocery store?
What exactly do you consider harm to be, then?
If you really want to help, buy them a sandwich. Or a cup of coffee. Or park your car, get out, and meet them - one of the things the lack tremendously is human contact that is not trying to rip them off, or “save” them.
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I did not mean that you should give a dollar or two to each and every beggar on the street . Giving one beggar a dollar or two who asks you for money for a bus fare or for a bite will not cost you much, and it will help him out somewhat – a dollar is in the right direction. If you are worried that the beggar is not going to use your money for something good, then you don’t have to give to him. But I can give to one – sometimes to two beggars on some days when I go into Boston because I don’t give much, and I place charity above small doubts about the person that may come to my mind (If I have big doubts, the I don’t give.). Of course, we never know how the beggar will use a dollar we give him, but* it is only a dollar *and we can hope that he will put it towards what he says he needs and hope that our very small act of caring truly blesses his poor heart. God bless you.
To some people a dollar is a lot of money.
Just needed to add this as someonw who at times has to stick to a quite tight budget. ;(
Many many years ago I was in the US and due to some circumstances I had a budget of about 5 dollars a week of spending money. (far away from family, and yes it was my choice and I amd ekind of an adventure/game out of it) Excluding what i found in telephone booths and newspaper machines, which sometimes was quite fine (a quarter here,t wo there… wodnering now about the morality of taking it… (???))…
Still there were ways of sharing.
There were so many homeless around at the time where I was staying.
I used to get bread from a bakery, taht they put out at night.
I may have had a jar of peanut butter from a pne dollar store, and making an alost-free penaut butter sandwich for a hhungry homeless person wasn’t probably all that hard.
I don’t remember exactly though, it’s been about 10 years.
I do remember that there were ways to help even with almost no money.
But giving a whole dollar would have been very much :)).
Thank you for explaining your situation. My posts on this thread were written to somebody who I figured was in an average situation, not in an exceptional situation like you. God bless you.
Ready, I didn’t want to put down your answers, i hope it didn’t come around that way.
Maybe I shouldn’t have gone into this direction with the thread here at all. I think the thing about the one dollar reminded me of a specific situation happeneing to me, that was also about the worth of a dollar in terms of donations.
Not to worry, your post was well taken. I am glad that you have contributed to this thread. Yes, a dollar can be a whole lot of money, depending on one’s circumstances! Please forgive me if I came across as offended – I actually had taken no offense. God bless you!
You didn’t come across as offended, but there are people who write in this extremely friendly way (which in your case fortunately was just plain honest friendliness and caring ) when thexy are offended but still try very hard to stay polite. ;)
Ah, I understand! Thanks for the clarification. God bless you!
Like many folks I and my wife have misgivings sometimes about whether to give $ to a panhandler or not. We sometimes purchase groceries for a local church’s food pantry or sometimes a grocery store chain will have coupons that can be scanned for different amounts of $ to be added to the tab. This will go to some organization such as the salvation army or rescue mission etc. We’ve started carrying energy bars in the car to give instead of $ since I’ve been reading several threads dealing with the issue of giving and how to give responsibly. We both feel more comfortable with these forms of giving than $ mostly for the reasons stated on this and other threads about how the money may be misused.
The main thing for me is that I help out and I’m comfortable with the way I help. 2 Corinthians 9:7 helped me with this view point. Lastly I would like to offer that for those that are on fixed incomes or otherwise unable to give monetarily for whatever reason there is always the offering of prayer. Blessings to all-take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving day.
Good post. If we do not feel comfortable giving to a particular beggar we can always pray for him/her. This is what I like to do when I feel uncomfortable giving to a particular beggar. God bless you.
I speak from having had an inside track on issues concerning homelessness, begging, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness and a host of other issues.
Yes, you are just giving a dollar. So is the next person, and the next, and instead of giving it to the shelters, who can provide a refuge; to the drug and alcohol dependency treatment groups who can help the addicts; to those who provide food and clothing, you take the chance, and the next person takes the chance, and the next person takes the chance, and the drug dealer gets theirs, and the poor who are burdened with these addictions get their hit, and you and the person behind you continue to think you are doing good.
I am not saying you do not have a good heart. I am not saying you are uncaring. I am saying you are naïve and your attempt at good is all too often being used to help these people destroy themselves. The people who run the shelters, who run the programs see you and the person behind you and the person behind them who continue to “just give a dollar” as undermining their best efforts to truly help these people; they see you as an enabler.
If my child had diabetes, and you as a neighbor made cookies for the kids in the neighborhood and fed my child (and of course you would have no reason to know they were diabetic), I would be ballistic.
If you truly want to help the homeless and the beggars, then pick a program that works with them and support it. Maybe you can only send a dollar now and then - they need those, and sometimes desperately.
Why is it when the professionals repeatedly say that giving that dollar works against everything the professionals are trying to do to help, that people who want to help can’t hear the message?
No, it is not “just a dollar”; it is a dollar from you, and from… What part of this are we not getting?
But sometimes I ask myself, what if just THIS person REALLY needs the money, and if everybody gives her/him a small amount (like a dollar), she/he will be able to buy food for her/his family, or a medicine they need, or whatever.
The problem is that we can’t know for a particular person.:shrug: