“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
At almost every corner you will find someone with a cardboard sign begging for your hard-earned money. Panhandling has become a major issue in America.
Sadly, I have found myself many times getting mad at them for begging for money and not looking for a job. Who am I to judge? I don’t know their situation. I don’t know them at all. But I could.
So instead of being filled with hatred and self-righteousness, here are three easy things you can do to change the panhandling problem and show God’s love.
1. Treat Them As a Fellow Human Being
Matthew says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Don’t just ignore them. Make eye contact. Smile. Show that you care. Even without giving anything that you earned, you can make a huge difference in someone’s life and show them God’s love. Who knows, your smile and kind words might have encouraged them not to give up on life.
2. Hand Out Gift Cards
Many people wil buy restuarant gift cards like McDonalds and hand them out when they encounter someone asking for money. By not handing out money, they won’t be able to buy cigarettes, beer, or anything else that wouldn’t improve their situation. The meal you finance might be their first in days.
3. Hand Out Care Packages
One Sunday my church gave the congregation the opportunity to make care packages to hand out when they come in contact with a panhandler. Our bags were filled with toiletries, long-lasting food such as granola bars, and an invitation to our church. You can easily do the same by visiting your local dollar store. Then stock your car with your care packages so you are ready when the opportunity arises. They aren’t called care packages for no reason. You show that you care.
Although that is not an exclusive list, it is a great start. Whatever God lays on your heart to do for the panhandlers in your area would have the same result. You would demonstrate His love to a lost and weary world.
So, instead of just ignoring the forlorn person at the intersection, choose do something. Take time out of your day to show that you care about more than just your own priorities.
God doesn’t call us to make sure their story is legit, he calls us to be obedient. He’ll take care of the results.