Should we give money to the homeless?
The Bible is clear that the poor will always be with us, and Jesus even says that how we treat those in need is a direct reflection of how we treat Him. (Matt.25:40) Even Luke tells us to give to everyone who asks us, and if anyone takes what belongs to us, do not demand it back. Do to others as you have them do to you. (Luke 6:30-31)
We’ve all been there, heading into a store to grab food or driving home from work and seeing people with cardboard signs saying they are in need. Maybe it’s been a busy week, so you decided to grab takeout on the way home from work. You pull up to pick up your food and see an unkempt man sitting or leaning against the wall outside the restaurant with a sign. He asks you if you can spare any change as you walk past. Where do your thoughts go?
Should I give them my money? What are they going to do with it? Will they be using it for drugs? Am I just enabling them by giving them money? I worked hard for my money; they should also have to work hard for theirs. These are all common responses.
God does not ask us to manage anyone else’s decisions but our own. We cannot know the actual situation of each person we come across. Our responsibility is to follow the call of God in our lives, and that call will always include love, compassion and generosity to those struggling.
Dealing with issues such as homelessness can feel overwhelming and scary because we often don’t know what to do or how to help. You may want to help but aren’t sure giving money is the right thing to do.
Here are a few practical tips regarding the question, “should I give money?”
- In many ways, it’s up to you, but if you choose to give money or something else, do it without expectation or judgment. The money may be used differently than you would have liked. Remember, you have no control over anyone else’s choices but yours.
- If you decide not to give money, we ask you still to acknowledge the person. Many homeless individuals are disrespected, spoken unkindly to and not treated with dignity daily. This simple acknowledgement affirms that they are our neighbours deserving of love and respect.
- Other ways to support a homeless person without giving money directly to them could be buying them a meal, a small gift card for a local coffee shop or fast food restaurant, using the money to donate food to a food bank or giving the money to an organization working with people experiencing homelessness.
- You can direct them to the Upper Room Mission. If they are asking for food, and you are not comfortable buying them a meal, you can send them our way. Most of them know where we are and when we are open.
All this said, always assess your safety first. The person will let you know if they want to talk or not. Always approach in a kind manner, as aggressive language will be met with the same response. Kindness is key. If you are uncomfortable at any point in the interaction with a homeless person, please walk away, and if you are concerned for their safety and well-being, please call 911.
If you would like to support the Upper Room Mission and learn more about what we do to show the love of Jesus to those struggling with poverty in Vernon, click the button below.