We as a society encourage panhandling and begging with our attitude of handing out money instead of getting involved personally with helping one another. Many of us would rather not have to worry with the messiness of helping, we would rather write a check to a church or charity for tax write off so we can hold up the receipt and say “I did my part” when the conviction comes knocking at our heart (or maybe our hearts are hardened past hearing any conviction at all).
It’s sad, but people like the drug addicted sinners panhandling on corners are exactly the type of broken people at the “bottom” of the chain of society who need to put some in check who are at the “bottom” when it comes to having hearts of mercy, love and forgiveness.
We overlook the needs of the oppressed and hurting – or put them on public display for their faults and shortcomings – contrasting the ugliness of their lives against our picket fences and grand, beautiful houses, bought with the mammon that we pile up and cling to – while our brothers and sisters suffer in the consequences of their circumstances, and yes, of their life choices.
And the heartless will say, let them reap what they have sown, let them get what they deserve, let them learn from their mistakes. I have no responsibility for them, I am not their keeper. I am not required to show them mercy for their poor choices. I am not required to give what is mine to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
No, you aren’t required to do anything, but your choice will bear out who your real father is, who your real teacher is. Are you following in the footsteps of your true master? Is it Christ who gave you what you do not deserve? Or do you follow a different master?
We live in a broken Babylon, where money is valued more than helping someone in need. Where we decide the needs we will ignore and our wants that we will indulge. Where instead of being eager to help each other, we are excited to point out the sins of others, and isolate ourselves from each other with our pointing fingers, hoping to distract others from targeting us with their pointing fingers, and to justify our comfort and complacency in the midst of the surrounding darkness.
I’m not justifying drug use, I’m not justifying sin. But I’d rather see someone showing love trying to help these folks get into a recovery program than see someone putting them on public display for their shortcomings. But time after time, I see the same people who talk about their designer rugs and newly financed luxury vehicles condemning those who are asking for food, for a job, for a way to support their families. Happily throwing away more in interest payments to the rich than they would ever consider giving to the needy.
Or maybe I’m just foolish and peculiar in the eyes of how the world tells me that I should treat my brother. Maybe the Pharisees were right in line with our society today when they condemned Jesus for eating with the sinners. Maybe society isn’t supposed to bring help to the needy, healing to the sick, but the church is.
But where can the church be found today? And I’m not talking about religious people practicing their rituals once a week with no real love for God or for their fellow man in a big building where money is invested to house the rich and “righteous”once a week but do little for those who actually need hope the most. It is maddening!
Where can we find Christ loving and lifting up the oppressed through the hands of His people instead of casting stones at one another? I even look at my own words written here, and am I not beating my brothers and sisters for the same disobedience and lack of love demonstrated by my own life example?
Oh, Lord, have mercy on us. Rescue us from the wrath you have stored up for this evil, selfish, and rebellious generation. Have mercy on me.
Luke 16:19-25 ESV
There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side
1 John 3:17 ESV
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Deuteronomy 15:11 ESV
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Luke 12:33 ESV
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Proverbs 14:31 ESV
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
Matthew 6:24 ESV
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Luke 3:11 ESV
And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
Matthew 6:31-33 ESV
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Acts 4:32-35 ESV
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.