a need or workin’ the system?

I have always struggled with the tension between wanting to live this verse…‎

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4…

and knowing that the majority of those who cross my path on the streets of my town, asking for money, will use money I give them for things other than food or the necessities of life. I hesitate because I am a woman and most who are asking are men. But I have had this nagging conviction longing to do something… to make a difference. I talked about it here. I have told myself that if I feel a prompting to give or do something, that I should just do it and leave what the person does with it in God’s hands.

So yesterday as I was loading my groceries in my car, a young woman with a little boy (immediately thought of Jaxson) approached me very sincerely and asked if I had any spare change. I said, “no, I’m sorry”. She said thank you anyways and walked to the next aisle where she approached another lady in the parking lot. I instantly felt conviction that I had lied… I did not have any bills, but I did have a couple dollars worth of change. I finished loading my groceries, dug through my purse and car for any money I had. “God, I want to do this for You. I am sorry for not being honest.” I drove to the other end of the parking lot, looking for the young mother. When I found her I told her I had found some change and apologized for it being so little. She said “thank you, it will help. I ran out of gas. God bless you.”

 I thanked God for not letting up on me and giving me the courage to do it.  I pulled out onto the side street and saw her approach her car, parked in a shady spot at the far end of the parking lot. As she was putting her little boy in the back seat, I noticed there was a man in the passenger seat. My heart sunk and I tried not to get mad. I did not want to jump to conclusions. But questions kept crossing my mind, like… “why was he sitting on his butt in the shade while she worked the parking lot?”  “was she working the parking lot?” “was her need legit?”  I just had to leave it in God’s hands. Not sure what to really think about it.

How do you handle situations like that? Would love to hear your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “a need or workin’ the system?

  1. I very much know how you feel Ruthi, as I too have come across so many people who ask for a hand out. I struggle to know who really needs it or just wants to use it for things that are not life sustaining. But again you hit the nail right on the head, God does impress on your heart to do something and so I do. I think my lesson is do I listen for God’s nudging by the Holy Spirit or am I just emotional enough to give up funds that can or might help that other person. We become heart hardened sometimes because of what we see happening like the man sitting in the seat in the car in the shade. Maybe by sharing you spared her getting a beating from her lazy husband. God knows the answer, but he’s only interested in our hearts and how we react to challenges He puts before us. Thank you God for making us who we are through these many lessons of giving and receiving your blessings.
    You and yours have a great day and a restful weekend.

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  2. This is a continual situation in all our lives. Having worked in a church
    office near an expressway exit for several years, I would panic when we had
    someone come into the church seeking money. Fortunately, we always had
    a man on campus and he would have the person follow him to a nearby
    gas station, let him fill his car with gas, and then pay for it after they had
    left. If it was food, he would take them to a nearby grocery and let them get
    what they needed…not junk…up to about $40. It worked well and we saw a
    decline in the number of drop-bys as they knew they would not get money
    which was what they really wanted. If they needed a untility bill paid, we
    would send it directly to the company…no cash handouts. But, I still have
    a personal dilemma as to individuals on the street. And, like you, I have
    seen the men watching the women as they work…awful! Only God knows
    and we have to follow God’s prompting at the time, and it seems the Holy
    Spirit did prompt you. Don’t let the sight of the man sitting in the car rob
    you of your joy; he may have been ill or crippled…only God knows.

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  3. And then perhaps it’s not about the recipient at all, but rather, about us, and the continual shaping that God wants to do in our life and in our heart. It never quite looks the way we expect it to look. He allowed you to see that man in the car, which robbed you of that pleasant “good deed” feeling, perhaps causing you to look into your own heart more deeply than you might have had you not seen him. I’m reminded of the passage in which Peter questions Jesus about the identity of his betrayer; Jesus answers him, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me” (Jn. 21:21-22, KJV, ’cause it rhymes).

    I’ve had similar moments, when I’ve been either oblivious to His promptings, or feel the “poke” to do a little something, and then been disappointed because I realized I’d been manipulated. I rationalize it somewhat by remembering that when we give a gift, by definition, there are no strings attached for the recipient, and that it’s not in the quality or quantity of the gift, so much as in the heart of the giver.

    One thing’s for sure, I’ll probably be remembering your post the next time the “opportunity” stands on the corner. Thanks again, for sharing your heart.

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  4. thank you guys for sharing your thoughts and perspectives. Tom, it is so true that it is our heart response that God is after. And Barb, I had cautioned myself not to judge “the man” to harshly, because I too thought maybe he was ill or could not walk. Lynn, I have thought often about the verse you shared… “what is that to thee? follow me.” what a good word! thanks!

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