As I look back over all that I’ve written regarding the begging issue and think about all that this issue entails, my main prayer is that the Father keep my Spirit soft and not hardened, which is far too easy to do in this culture (or any culture for that matter). During my time of processing all of this, I did take the opportunity to go back to the Word and see what it had to say about it all. Novel idea, huh? As I read, one thing became abundantly clear – we are certainly expected to give to the poor and to give generously. The real question that remains is how we do that? And I think that is something that the Holy Spirit has to lead us in. Some people hand out food, some decide to concentrate on a few specific people and do things like pay their rent or supply more consistent support, some give to many as they walk by, some give to certain charities or aids and don’t give to anything else. I think even if I don’t give to every person I pass, for whatever reason, I can still pray for them and ask the Father to keep my heart soft towards them and their need. I’m also reminded that although there are many legitimate excuses for not giving; its a scam, I’m teaching them to beg, they could be taking advantage of me, etc, the reality is that in the situation of a need, I hope that I would err on the side of being too gracious as opposed to being cold to the pain. I was told early on here that if you’ve never been taken advantage of when you helped someone, then you’ve never helped someone. That doesn’t eliminate the need for wisdom and discernment in my actions towards others in need, but it does leave room for forgiveness and humility and a heart that is open to what the Lord might be trying to teach me in spite of the other person’s motives or purposes. Like I said before, sometimes I wonder how much of this has to do with other people’s needs and how much of it has to do with what the Lord is trying to teach me and what he is trying to do in my heart. I am fairly sure that these situations involve a good dose of both. Undoubtedly, this is an issue that I will continue to wrestle through during my time here. I think as long as it still bothers me and as long as I am still asking, then that is where I need to be. It is when I have become hardened and unfeeling towards these people that I am in dire trouble. Please pray with me that this does not become the case. I’m afraid some days, it is far too easy to do.
A couple of people responded to my blogs by drawing an analogy between the people here constantly begging for money, which will not satisfy their needs, and how we often approach our Father. How often do we come before the Father asking repeatedly for things that will not satisfy us. The question was posed to me by a friend that what if the larger lesson to learn in all of this is that it is about what we ask for, how we ask for it, and what we do once we get it? Hmmm, definitely some food for thought. I am appreciative of some of the insights I got back from you guys – things that had never crossed my mind as I am in the midst of all of this.
Well, I have said all I wanted to say about this issue, for whatever its worth…..