You Can’t Delegate Compassion

[Thanks to my husband for setting my mind on this track!]

There are certain “spiritual” practices that most Christians would agree are a Good Idea—practices such as reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers. If you stop and consider, you might add additional items to this list—meditating on God and His word, practicing hospitality, generosity (aka giving), and fasting. We often aren’t aware that those among us are fasting, but I’m sure they are. Jesus assumed his followers would fast; it just isn’t something that we’re supposed to notice. Continue reading

Responding to Panhandlers

I don’t know about you, but I always struggle when confronted by someone asking for money. Whether they’re sitting at an intersection with a cardboard sign or they approach me on the sidewalk, I get the same conflicted feelings:

  • Give them money. Jesus said to give to those who ask.
  • Don’t give them money. They’ll spend it on drugs or alcohol.
  • Give them money. God loves the poor.
  • Don’t give them money. They should be working!
  • Give them money. The Bible says we are to love our neighbor.
  • Don’t give them money. There are soup kitchens and homeless shelters for that purpose.

I either end up giving a half-hearted offering that won’t solve their problems and only leaves me feeling slightly less guilty, or I just avoid eye contact altogether. Neither response feels right.

It was with immense relief that I read the following article in “Christianity Today,” written by a group of people I respect, a group focused on exactly the sort of issues I’m struggling with here. I trust their wisdom in this area.

Please click on the link and read the short article,

Give to Street People? Don’t

by Ron Sider, Gary Hoag, and Andy Bales.