Middle Class Panhandlers.

One of my least favorite things about the city is that there are always people out on the streets hollering at you, cat-calling, trying to sell you something, talk about something, ask for something. We’ve all been at a stoplight where homeless people approach your car to request money. If you’re anything like me, you awkwardly pretend you don’t see them as they walk by, even though they are 2 feet away from your face. The green light is your saving grace. Or you blatantly lie and say you don’t have any change. Everybody has change.

This. Exactly This. (Photo courtesy of coffeeton.tumblr.com)

This. Exactly This.
(Photo courtesy of coffeeton.tumblr.com)

During my average work day I am asked for money about three times.

Today, a man stopped at the front window of the gallery and watched me for a little while. It’s pretty common for people to do that, and I just ignore them and they move on. But ultimately, this man knocked on the window, so I opened the door and greeted him.

He asked if there was any food. I told him that we don’t sell food here, this is an art gallery. He indicated my sandwich on the desk. I had eaten half of it. He asked if he could “polish it off.” I said “No…you can’t eat my dinner…….” He said that he couldn’t afford to buy food, and I could get it any time I wanted to. He was really insisting but I kept saying no. Eventually he said, “Right hand to my king, I’m sorry. I love you baby. I love you,” and he left. And I was like great, he had to pull the LORD into this, now I feel like an asshole.

Fifteen minutes later, he was back knocking on the door, pointing to the sandwich, rubbing his stomach. I yelled through the door, “No! I’m not giving it to you! Sorry!” Then he just mouthed “I love you” for a really long time. I do expect him to return. But this kind of thing happens all the time.

A few weeks ago, a lady asked for money to buy some food and I said that I would buy her food at the Dunkin Donuts we were in front of. She mumbled something about how that wouldn’t work, and was like Yeah, that’s what I thought. *cough*drug addict*cough*

Am I a monster, you guys? I never give money to people. Why not? Is it because I feel like I need it more than they do?

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

That can hardly be true. Is it because I feel like I’ve worked for it and they didn’t? It’s only through God’s blessing that I even have a job. Is it because I think they won’t use it for a good purpose? When has Jesus ever qualified an admonition to “Give to the needy”? Is it wrong to give money to someone if they have the capability to work but are just being lazy?

Whenever I turn someone down, all these thoughts come rushing into my head. About how if I have two cloaks I should give one away, and “the least of these,” and entertaining angels, and everything I have is God’s anyway, and the widow giving one mite as an offering of all she had.

Jesus’ favorite thing ever was helping the poor. What am I supposed to do?

I feel divided into two halves. One half is the part of me that has prevented me from being kidnapped all these years. I refuse to let anything be pulled over on me. I will not be lied to or taken advantage of. I’ll talk back to anyone. I don’t trust you, stranger. I’m not your friend. And the other half is the Jesus part that’s nudging me to give everything away and be cool, and constantly nice, and not worry about people’s intentions, and trust the Lord.

How can I be fiscally, socio-economically, and practically supportive of those in need without putting myself at risk or being stupid? I would also like to be more educated about the issue. People who understand this, please chime in. Is it actually difficult to get food from a soup kitchen, or stay the night at a homeless shelter? Are there not enough resources for those in need? How many people are actually in need and how many people are lying to me? Do panhandlers actually make 40k a year? If that’s true, I will be so mad.

One comment

  1. This is an age old question that has no easy answer. Some say to give and it’s the recipient’s responsibility to use it wisely and honestly. Others say to be a good steward and don’t cause someone to stumble…giving them $ is just the same as giving them drugs or alcohol…you are just enabling them.
    Several times I have offered to buy someone food or I prepacked bag lunches and the majority of the time they are turned down in anger and demand money instead.
    That being said, it does sort out truth from those who just want the money. By buying them food it can also give you a chance to talk with them while they eat. Many of these people know how to intimidate so never give out of guilt. God will show you how and when to give if you ask for discernment.. If you look at Jesus’ ministry there were times when people sought him that he withdrew. He did not respond 24/7. There were times and reasons that he left crowds that sought him.
    Blessings as you grow in His Grace!

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