Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Quick to Judge?

Near Tim's office it is normal to see someone with a sign asking for food and money. There is a busy intersection and several restaurants there. Two men work the area, both are probably in their 40's. One is obviously homeless, and pushes his possessions around in a shopping cart. The other man looks rough around the edges. He holds a sign saying that he is homeless and hungry.

It is a sad sight. I don't know their story. I've never given them anything (perhaps I should), but seeing them makes me feel for them. It makes me wonder how they could have gotten to this point in their lives.

Today I was shopping in a nearby town, and saw two different people, standing together, holding a sign asking for food and money. The sight of them did not evoke feelings of sadness. If anything the sight of them brought disbelief and anger to the surface.

They were two young women in their twenties. They had nice clothes. They were clean, and had they not been standing there with their sign, I would have thought they were shopping. Though I could not read their entire sign, what I did see read, "Just passing thru. Broke and hungry."

What?! You're just passin' thru, and you want me to finance it? I think what really topped it off is that they were sitting there smoking. Apparently not so hungry that you would go with out your smokes huh girls?

Again, I don't know their story. I did not give them anything. From their appearance and sign, I can only assume that they are traveling out of choice, they have a place to stay, and expect to finance their travels by begging for money.

It is outrageous to me, and I have to wonder is it really working for them? Do people really see two nicely dressed, well kept young ladies puffing away, and feel moved to give them money? Of course the cynical side of me has a few ideas who might be willing to give them some money, but I'll leave that idea alone.

Four people claiming to be hungry, and begging for help. I know nothing about any of them, except what I've seen at a glance, from a distance. Yet, they bring about completely different feelings, perhaps justified, perhaps not.

My assumptions may be entirely accurate, but if someone is claiming to be hungry, is it my place to judge why they are hungry and if they deserve my help? Or should I just buy them a cheeseburger? How quick I am to judge based on appearances alone.


  1. You sound like me. That one guy is always at the bottom of the hill by Taco Bell when we leave church on Sunday. His sign says, "Will work for food." One day, Rye asked, "Why doesn't he go work at Taco Bell? They have a 'now hiring' sign." It's obvious to my 9yo. I just don't see why others are handing the guy free money. @@

  2. I know nothing about the 2 girls but I do know a bit about the 2 guys.
    One afternoon, while on a field trip with Covenant School, we stopped at the McDonalds there. A cop was sitting and having lunch. One of the moms I was with asked him what the two men's stories were.
    The obviously homeless man is mentally ill. He lost his family in a fire and will not enter another building. He "chooses" to live outside. If he's not hungry, he won't take money from you. He also won't accept any help.
    The other "man" well.... that's his job. The cop advised us to ignore him. The newest vagrency (SP?) laws do not extend to that intersection. I've seen that man round the corner and get picked up in a newer model cadillac behind the Fazolis. It makes me angry. He should not play on people's sympathies like that.
    You want to help them, you tell yourself to remember when Jesus said "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
    But I don't know if he ever wanted us to finance laziness or crime. It's a fine line.
    BTW,, LOVE the new layout!

  3. Mary,
    I agree there are jobs to be had. Begging must be more profitable or maybe he just like to set be his own boss!

    Thanks for the info. That is a very sad story about the one guy. So many things have such a fine line. I guess we need to depend on the Spirit's leading.

  4. In the UK we have people who will beg by asking for a 'bus fair' or the price of a 'cup of tea' which they will then spend on drugs,beer or cigarettes . I used to hand over my small change but not any more.
    As to the guy outside taco bell..maybe he has asked for work but is too dirty,smelly or has no references so they won't employ him.

  5. he's not dirty nor smelly, He he generally clean cut normal looking guy....

  6. I, personally, follow my heart. Yes, in some cases, I may give to someone that doesn't need it. But if those that deceive us can sleep at night, that is their burden to carry.

  7. Cheryl nailed it for me...if I give (which I rarely do) and I am deceived, judgment has fallen on the deceiver. I enjoy helping those who are at least looking like they are trying to help themselves.

    By the way...I like your blog.


  8. I would NEVER EVER NEVER EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR give money or food to someone who is sitting there smoking. That is disgusting that they would spend money on smokes when they are "so hungry"! That is about as stupid as it gets....thinking that people won't realize what they are doing.
    IT MAKES ME SICK!!!!!!!!!!!
    If they are, indeed, hungry and really are buying the smokes instead of food.....well, that is even more stupid!!!!!!!!!!

  9. From my experience, if you buy them a cheeseburger they will give you a dirty look because they really just wanted money to buy drugs or alcohol. I know it isn't my place to judge but I never give money to beggers. And if I ever feel bad about it, I just go give to an established charity.

  10. I think that we just don't have a clue what some people go through unless we have been there ourselves. Divorce, loosing a child, drug taker...

    I am a Christian and what my husband and I do is this...
    If someone is begging for food we tell them that we don't give money but will buy them a meal. Most times this will be accepted. We help them out this way and at least they get a meal, at most they will get the Gospel.

    Don't be too concerned about the girls. They are 'chancing their arms' as we say in Ireland! There are worse people around than them, doing a lot more harm.

    What can we expect from the lost whos eyes God hasn't yet opened? A favourite saying I use (sometimes on myself!) is "what do you expect from a pig but a grunt?"

    Next time go over and show some intrest and perhaps you will get the chance to be one of the people God may use to bring them into our family... at least pray for them?
    God bless you and yours.

  11. Perhaps it is like someone said about the man near Taco Bell, that for some reason he is unemployable. My brother, who is only 19 and still lives at home, has been trying desprately for years now to get a job. He has only been able to get 1 and hold that for about 6 months before he was let go. 1. there is simply not much to go around and 2. he does have a mental illness that hinders his "marketablitiy" to employers. He has put in applications where-ever he sees a "Help Wanted" sign and he has yet to get past the job interview. *sigh*

    I agree with giving to a charity or buying a meal instead of giving money, as has been stated, money can easily go to things that won't feed a body.

    God Bless!