Give to the least

lady beggingToday I encountered another “panhandler” on the corner of a busy intersection. As is my habit, I grabbed some bills out of a container on my console and handed them to the man. Each time I hear in my internal ear, “He’s only going to use it for drugs or booze.”

Quiet down internal ear.

I was thinking about this once again when a Dave Ramsey quote began circulating on Facebook. “Make sure that you are actually helping someone when you give them money, not just enabling bad behavior.” I generally appreciate Mr. Ramsey’s suggestions. In this case, though, I believe he has made a judgment on both the man on the corner and on me.

Why is it an assumption that those who are asking for money or food or whatever are drug users, alcoholics, or morally unacceptable people? Are any of us so perfect that we can judge someone because of circumstances?

My mother had a plaque in the living room that said, “Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.” She said it stopped gossip in her home. It later hung in my living room. I should have a bumper sticker made.

But what did Jesus say? First, there’s “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Mt. 7: 1-2 NASB). Think. Have you ever picked up a free cup of coffee or snack? What if someone said that you don’t deserve it because you have caffeine or sugar addiction? You don’t want to be judged in that way, do you? Does that man on the corner deserve it?

Second, the New Testament “‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’” (Mt. 25:37-40 NASB).

I don’t recall that Jesus ever said, “Help those who meet this list of qualifications.” He said help the least of these.

I believe money or other possessions belong to God. I need to make them available to God for his use, in his time, and in his way. I’m responsible to God how I use or not use what he owns. When I pass one of those possessions to someone else, that person becomes responsible to God for its use. If that man on the corner this morning buys a bottle of wine, he has to answer to God.

This Christmas season give a gift to someone on the street corner. Give, not worrying about the gift, but praying for the receiver. Give to the least of us.

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