Standing in the hot sun or cold winter air with a sign in your hand isn’t easy. The fact is that it can be humiliating begging others for help — it’s hard work! If I learned one thing from my experience doing homeless ministry is that many of the people on the street never thought they wold be there.
Many of those people had careers and families…then life happened. Others are mentally ill. And the fact always remains that it could happen to any of us.
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.
The beggar Lazarus – He probably got on people’s nerves just as beggars do today. People probably questioned how he lived and his choices. People probably wondered why his family didn’t help him. They most likely made excuses and justified ignoring him when Jesus clearly said, Give to them who ask and don’t turn them away…
Matthew 5:42 (NKJV)
42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
Jesus also told us to give looking for nothing in return…
Luke 6:35New King James Version (NKJV)
35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
We all run into Lazarus today…at the gas station…on the street…asking you for spare change…the crumbs that fall from your table. What is your reaction? Do you react as the rich man did and turn them ALL away?
Jesus knows there are scammers and liars. He knows there are those who will use what you give them on things they don’t need. He knows there are those who will try to take advantage of your kindness. Many people refuse to give money to people who beg because they’re afraid they will use it on alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or will waste it on something wicked. I feel that’s one application of the scripture…”And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”(Matthew 24:12), because so many people can’t be trusted, the love that many people would ordinarily show has grown cold and withheld. We must therefore not withhold God’s love, but share it with wisdom.
If someone who’s begging is lying, that’s between them and God. God expects us to be obedient, compassionate, wise and plant seeds of His love. Purchase a meal for them. Buy them medicine. Pay for them to have shelter for a night or two, while letting them know that you are sharing the love of God. All it takes is the ‘crumbs that fall from your table’. Sacrifice the cost of a lunch, coffee for a week, sodas…whatever it is that you don’t necessarily need to help someone who begs from you. I guarantee you won’t give away enough to break your, but you can hold on to enough to do so. Some times God places these people in our paths for a reason…so they can have an encounter with Him through us. So you can ask them if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. So we can be the answer to their prayer to God for help. You can be someone’s confirmation that God hasn’t forgotten them. You could plant a seed in someone who witnesses your act of kindness….God always has a purpose for every encounter.
Remember that God warned us about turning away those who ask of us….be careful when you do because many times, just as in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus…Christians and the church are the RICH MAN.