The coffee shop beggar

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“Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. -Matthew 5:42

I eat out quite a bit, and my favorite food is hawker food. And very often I meet beggars at the coffee shop asking for money. Sometimes I give, sometimes I refuse. Sometimes I offer to buy them a meal.

In each situation, i always struggle with the, “to give or not to give” question. What is the right principle to follow? What is the right decision? How do I discern? Is the beggar going to waste my money? Is the this beggar ‘worth’ it? What race or religion is the beggar?

So many questions, it’s impossible to reason out the answer to each one, in a matter of seconds while beggar is right there in front of you. The result, my response is more of a spontaneous sort rather than a reasoned one – one that depends on my ‘mood’.

I think the answer is to have thought out the answers beforehand and have a consistent response as to how to give to beggars.

Dont give at all. No need to think, just refuse to give. This is just wrong and reeks of selfishness. I don’t remember Jesus having an attitude like this, ever.

Okay…

Don’t give money. Just buy meals. This seemed to be the safest response, if a beggar comes along, just offer to buy a drink or meal for them, if they refuse, their loss, and at least I get to ensure the money is well spent, rather than the beggar wasting it on cigarettes or drugs. Seems right, but in all honesty, it’s not good enough. Not all beggars beg because of hunger. What if a lady has a child she needs to buy shoes for? What if she has a debt to pay? My pre-decided response would help no one but me (coz I get to keep me money!)

What saith the Lord?
As Christians, ultimately this is the question that needs answering. The answer from the Lord should then shape our decisions.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. -Matthew 5:42″
In any language or version, the meaning the same.

Give.

No terms and conditions, no fine print, no prejudice, no worry about how it will be used.

We should learn to give, as the bible asks to give. Give within our means. In most instances when before a beggar, parting with one, or two, ringgit is not going to burst our budget. Of course there will be times when we don’t have sufficient cash in hand, and we need to sadly refuse the beggar, but this should the exception rather than the norm.

If we are worried about how the money will be used, think about Jesus and the ten lepers. All cried for help, Jesus healed all of them. But only one came back to give thanks. Jesus, being God knew this would happen, but did he keep his grace from them? No.

So the next time a beggar approaches us, let our response be a spontaneous obedience to Word of God – give. Leave the consequence to the Lord

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