My daughter, Shannon, pointed out a “Gift to God” section in the Tyndale Life Application Bible Commentary on the book of Acts (page 172) on the excuses we’ve all made at times – and may continue to do so – for not helping the poor and needy. Here are eight of the most common excuses the commentary writers listed:
- They don’t deserve help. They got themselves into poverty; let them get themselves out.
- God’s call to help the poor applies to another time.
- I don’t know any people like this.
- I have my own needs.
- Any money I give will be wasted, stolen, or spent. The poor will never see it.
- I may become a victim myself.
- I don’t know where to start, and I don’t have time.
- My little bit won’t make any difference.
I think most of these excuses come from fear. But the truth is:
Judge not, lest you be judged by your own standards. Markets rise and fall. Recessions hit. Businesses close. You might be homeless someday. Look at people through the eyes of our compassionate God and see the potential of every human being.
The poor will always be among us, which means we will always have opportunities to help. How do we learn to be compassionate otherwise?
One of the gifts, I’ve been told, is recognizing someone on the street as a fellow human being. Making eye contact. Smiling. Saying hello.
Give responsibly. My daughter put together kits and kept them in her car. Whenever she met someone in need, she gave them practical items. She got me started doing the same thing. Energy bar, bottle of water, toothbrush, toothpaste, new socks, a small Bible, fruit roll-ups, a “ticket” to an overnight stay at a local shelter, encouraging scriptures.
When going out to a homeless encampment, go with a team. There are ministries and organizations that need volunteers.
Start with prayer. Prayer is a powerful thing. “Lord, show me opportunities and give me the heart to love my neighbor as myself.”
Every little bit helps. $1.79 pays for a meal at our local shelter. One Starbuck’s coffee would pay for 2 or 3 meals for a girl escaping from a sex trafficker or an out-of-work mother with a baby, a veteran debilitated by PTSD or a young man devastated by drug addiction and desperate for a way out.
If everyone did one small act of kindness each day, it would make a big difference in our world.