Have you ever seen someone on the side of the road holding up a sign that reads, “Homeless: please help?” You may also have seen someone with a sign reading, “Out of gas; anything will help.” There are many variations of signs that people will hold up for attention or it may be someone walking up to you in a parking lot asking for money for various reasons.
How do you treat or react to these people?
I am guilty just as many of you are when it comes to judging these people. This is not to say I haven’t helped in some way for many of them, however when I am repeatedly asked by the same person, who I know is not in need, then this bothers me.
Do I suffer from spiritual blindness when it comes to repeated inquiries?
Many people will pass by and not help anyone at any time because they do not believe what they are hearing or what they are seeing. They definitely suffer from spiritual blindness because some of the needs are legitimate and we should try to help in some way.
We need to read the story about blind Bartimaeus as told in the gospel of Mark 10:46-52. He was a blind beggar that would sit by the road and ask for help. People would ignore him and pass him by. Then Jesus walked by and Bartimaeus cried out for help and Jesus heard him. The people around Bartimaeus told him to be quite but he cried out even more and Jesus heard him. Jesus called Bartimaeus to Him and asked him what he wanted. Bartimaeus asked to see and Jesus healed him.
I had the opportunity of being in Fort Worth, Texas with a church group several years ago. The minister of music from the group was hit up one night by a man asking for help so he could get some gas for his car so he could take his family to some city he named. The minister gave him $20 and told him “God Bless You.”
The very next morning in the same location this same man asked the minister for money for the same reason. It was very evident this guy was a fraud, however the minister did not rebuke him but told him he gave the night before. He also talked to the guy about Jesus and his convictions toward the gospel.
The minister was asked why he talked to this person knowing he was a person that worked the streets asking for money using his family as a tool to get help. The minister replied, as all of us should, “It is not my job to judge this man, but to help him if I can. Who knows, maybe the money I gave him last night and the words about Jesus I spoke to him this morning, will have an effect on him and he will turn from his begging ways and look to Jesus for guidance.”
When we see a homeless person do we automatically assume the worse without considering the opportunities for ministry? Do we belong to a group of overly religious people that ignore the plight of a hurting world and conveniently tell everyone to be quiet?
My wife and I have adopted the idea of not giving money to anyone but helping them in some other way. If they say they are hungry or want to get food for their family, then we will go and buy them food. The same is true when people ask for gas money, we will take them to get gas.
When someone is homeless then all of us should try and help them locate a shelter and a food bank. There are so many ways we can help a hurting world if we don’t turn away from it with a spiritual blindness.
If people really need help they will let you help them. If they are begging strictly for money then they will turn away from you and their intentions are not honorable.
However, it is not our place to judge them, but it is our place to help them find Jesus.
GARY ANDREWS' devotional appears each week on the Church Pages of your Clarksdale Press Register. You can contact him at GARY@gadevotionals.com