I live in San Antonio. A big place, lots of people and many poor people. I feel guilty each time I drive by a homeless person at highway intersections (many times a day). I feel I have become numb to their presence. I know they are children of God, but how can I help them? I feel like the Levite in the Good Samaritan parable that I “came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.” I feel that paying my tithing and a very generous fast offering doesn’t justify driving by them.
Wow. First off and perhaps most importantly, I want to commend you for your loving and caring nature. Your compassion towards people who aren’t as well off as you or I is obvious and very inspiring. Too often in our society we ignore the difficult teachings of charity and almsgiving for the poor. The words of our Savior come to my mind.
“Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40).
I’ve always thought of the poor and lesser off when I think of that passage.
Before I go any further, I want to offer you a word of caution. This is unpleasant to talk about, but it must be said. Sometimes people abuse our charity. A drug addict might falsely claim to be poor and by giving them some money you might be making yourself feel better, but you might be doing great harm to them by giving them more money to buy drugs. To be very clear-many homeless people are not drug addicts, but it still must be said that some people will abuse your kindness. You can alleviate that by giving to a local charity that deals with homelessness rather than homeless people directly.
“Down through history, poverty has been one of humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenges. It’s obvious toll us usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional challenge can be even more debilitating.” (Are We Not All Beggars? – Jeffrey R. Holland)
He was, of course, exactly right. Poverty has been a challenge to virtually all societies and cultures since the very beginning of our human existence. In fact, it’s such a problem that some of us can get jaded about it and perhaps ignore our obligations to help the less fortunate. You Stephen, are the best among us because you do not suffer from that way of thinking. You fear that you have become “numb” to their presence, but that you care enough about them to ask the question proves that you are hardly numb or uncaring. You also mentioned that you give a fast offering and pay your tithing. Once again Stephen, this shows how much you care. I’m very proud of you.
You are exactly right Stephen. Everyone, no matter what their circumstances are children of God. From the richest King/CEO to the poorest among us. Your question has warmed my heart and I’m so glad there are still people like you out in this world. We should all aspire to your level of kindness. Remember that by paying tithing, giving fast offerings and perhaps occasionally giving to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, no one, including yourself, should ever question your compassion.
God bless you,