Matthew 25:45 is a pretty powerful line for me. So it is very distressing whenever some individual or charity comes to ask for financial assistance, and I ultimately decline for various reasons. Some of those cases are justified out of common sense, but other times I’m not sure why. The causes seem good, maybe I’m just a cheapskate. Statistically speaking, there are probably times when I have turned away Christ hidden among the needs of the people. Logic dictates that I’m not starving and I could do with less, so why the stinginess? Am I being un-christian by declining to contribute to every good cause that I am presented with?
I would suggest asking Fr. Vincent Serpa in the Apologists forum.
Prayer and fasting, seeking the grace of a good spiritual director to get to the bottom of this would be the next step.
I have heard several people, priests and others, speak of how they struggle at times to discern whether to act in these situations. After a while, they can tell when someone is taking advantage of them, but there are always a few where they wonder.
You are being un-Christian when somebody asks for your help and you are the only person in that situation who can help them – and though you can help them, you refuse them your help. God bless you.
Every one? I think you should find one cause that really appeals to you and stick with it. I am committed to giving money to Catholic Relief Services every month, but I don’t give to most other charities often. I know CRS is a good charity, and want to contribute to the truly poor people of the world.
But sometimes it can be overwhelming how many good causes there are - medical, religious, children, etc. And some even could be scams.
I just read the following passage in my meditation book on our Lord’s Passion:
“Refuse not to relieve the poor and afflicted for the love of Jesus, and He will accept as given to Himself whatever consolation or assistance you charitably bestow upon your suffering neighbor.”
If when you encounter a particular beggar you get the strong feeling that you’d be enabling him in some bad habit, then prudence I think would move you to respond accordingly. God bless you.
Pope Leo XIII once said: “Once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest that one owns belongs to the poor.” Giving all you can to those who can take can be thought to be practical in a sense too. Still I do not envy all the rich people who have to give an account to God for every penny they use for better or worse. I have sometimes had troubles of my own with beggars but so far I feel my conscience has survived relatively unscathed.
This is excellent counsel.
From the time I was working at a VA Hospital while in college to now, I have been aware that there is a class of people appearing to be poor and in need. Trying to weed these people out as an individual is pitting an amateur against professionals. Even helping professionals have been taken in. Not only does this support the undeserving, it takes help away from those who can really use it. I would recommend being involved in some charitable group. After a while, the workers can weed out those who abuse charity.
Unfortunately, in today’s world it comes down to a difference in being charitable and being a good steward. Scamming in the name of charity should not be rewarded. But knowing the difference takes some research.