Am I a Hypocrite?

If I recall correctly, I recently mentioned the fact that my church hosts a group of homeless men in the CARITAS program one week a year, and I help out with other members of my Sunday School class one night during that time. We get their evening meal ready and pack bag lunches for them to take wherever they go the next day. Some of our class members are more outgoing in talking to the men–there are usually about forty of them–and I actually sat down with one of them this year for what turned out to be an extended conversation.

CARITAS is a worthy program and our participation isn’t very challenging. Even though I never look forward to it each year, I’m always glad I helped out.

That’s not what I feel hypocritical about, though.

beggar2

Just off of Rt. 1 at the entrance to our local Martins Grocery Store, I frequently see a tanned, trim, bearded fellow sitting on the median strip where people exiting at the light can’t miss seeing him. Especially if they’re stopped for a red light.

He always brings a chair or a stool–one very hot day recently he was shading himself beneath an umbrella–and water. Oh, and he has a sign. As you can see from the picture above, it says, “Spare change. Anything will help” and “God bless.” It does NOT say, “Will work for food.”

I’m jealous of Jesus, especially regarding this man. He knows people’s hearts. He knows this guy’s circumstances and whether offering him even the smallest of contributions would be good or foolish.

Yes, Jesus knows and I sure don’t. I’ve always been skeptical of beggars. And knowing that the men of CARITAS are genuinely homeless and that many of them actually have jobs but just not a place to live doesn’t help me feel any better about this guy.

The Bible talks about helping widows and orphans. This man doesn’t qualify. And Jesus said the poor will always be with us. But what do I do about this fellow?

I don’t dislike him. I would probably feel very sorry for him if I could determine the truth about his situation and if it demonstrated genuine need.

Am I a hypocrite for willingly helping with CARITAS but ignoring this man? I honestly don’t know.

I almost wish I could conveniently park and stop and talk to him. It’s not as if I’m afraid of him. But so far the best I’ve managed was to smile and wave at him once. Maybe twice. If I had an unopened bottle of water in the car, I’d probably offer it to him. But that’s the extent of what I’d do.

WWJD? What would Jesus do? I can only shake my head. He’d know the best thing to do. The right thing. He was never hypocritical about anything. And He never ignored people’s needs. Their real needs.

What would you do? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Best regards,
Roger

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4 thoughts on “Am I a Hypocrite?

  1. Most of the time, I help in a small way. My view is that Jesus will judge the man if he wastes my gift. That’s between him and God. I believe that if my gift is from a generous and sincere heart, that is what God sees in me. We are to help the least of these so I give and offer a prayer for them.

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  2. I think God knows in great detail everything going on in human society. He expects us to be like him. As far as is possible we should try to be cognizant of our surroundings, the people in our range of influence, and act according to our conscience.

    This does not mean doling out on a regular basis money to folks who simply ask for it. I read the gospels and while Jesus does help some poor folk he certainly didn’t do away with poverty in any of the cities and districts where he preached.

    He helped children or widows with children or men maimed or blind or with some other serious handicap. But he didn’t pass out Ducats at every street corner to people who were just asking.

    I see that as a good example. Something to emulate. A good message is better than money. A good teacher will instill in his students a correct view of the world and the way I see it we are commanded to make our own way, pull our own chain, work hard as it is the gift of God. We are not commanded to set up charities and soup kitchens.

    Yes, I know, Jesus fed folks on some occasions, but not on a regular basis or as a custom. He fed people who went out to hear him preach and as an act of compassion he gave out a simple meal of bread and fish. Once, he even turned water into wine. This should not be viewed as him setting up a liquor store.

    We see many folks panhandling. It’s a world-wide custom. But it is a distinctly uncomely avocation and I personally do not support it. If a person has gotten to the point where he needs help and no one in his immediate circle or family are not willing to help him then this tells me something. And I cannot and will not believe that there is absolutely zero employment available for someone interested in eating an honorable meal.

    So you are not a hypocrite. I think society in general has lost its ability to think clearly. It wants people to feel bad for certain things, like slavery, for instance, and the black man’s poverty, although we had nothing to do with it. Slavery is something that passed off the scene more than 150 years ago. I do not feel bad for being white, or having a job or owning a home. If someone else doesn’t like it and thinks I should share my hard work with him because they think I should does not influence me one bit.

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  3. Well stated, my friend. I believe help is available for those who are truly in need. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to giving a panhandler something for nothing. That’s somewhat like handing him a fish rather than helping him learn to fish.

    One things I tried to emphasize without overdoing it in my blog post was what I said about this fellow’s sign NOT saying, “Will work for food.”

    But what you said in your first paragraph about acting according to conscience is still relevant. So I believe what Tammy said in her comment is the godly thing for her to do, but not necessarily what everyone should feel obligated to do.

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