do you give?

homeless, poverty

Written by Mark Lafler

B.A., Global University; M.C.S., Regent College I am currently serving as a youth minister at our church in Sarasota, FL. I am married to Tera (15 Years +) and we have 3 beautiful daughters.

April 25, 2012

homeless, poverty

You are walking down the street and someone asks you for money, do you give?

You are driving down the street and someone is holding a cardboard sign up asking for money, do you give?

Sometimes this can be a very tough question.

Are they going to really use the money to buy a bus pass or food?  Or are they going to use the money for alcohol or drug abuse?

Is what they use the money for important or should we just give?

In Acts 3:1-10 we read that God worked through Peter and John to heal a crippled beggar.  When the beggar saw Peter and John he asked them for money.  Peter got his attention and said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  The man was helped up and proceeded to walk.

What an amazing lesson.  Two thoughts stand out to me about this passage.

1) Do we ever feel directed as Peter and John did to pray for a stranger we meet for a healing?  Do we have to feel directed by the Holy Spirit or should we just take the step of faith and pray that God heals all the people who come our way?

2) What if Peter and John would have had some money?  I know this is speculative upon the scriptures, nevertheless, if they had money would they have given it?  I don’t know the answer, but of course what the beggar got was greater than money.

I think of this passage when I cross paths with beggars today.  What would Peter and John do?  What is the Holy Spirit leading me to do?

What do you do?


  1. Nikole Hahn

    The better question is: Are those people who hold those signs making money off of you? There was a documentary on that somewhere. In fact, just recently a young man was asking for money on the side of the freeway in his new jeans, beauty shop hair cut, and backpack that shined it was so new. I think you have to be careful when people ask for money. Is the holy spirit directing you? Or are you giving out of pity or to feel good or to look good? When our group at a place I used to work wanted to help this family for Christmas we chose a gift card for a grocery store instead of actual cash that way it couldn’t be used for anything but groceries, but these people never held up signs. The couple had jobs, but struggled to pay the bills. They didn’t ask for help. We offered after a lengthy conversation with them. Personally, I would suggest giving that money to churches or organizations that all ready are set up to help people who need it. There are usually records kept there to ensure they aren’t enabling someone into poverty. But I think you’re right…we should pray for those on the side of the road. God knows their heart and their situation.

    • Mark Lafler

      Thanks for sharing.  It is a hard decision to give or not to give or where to give.  How do we help people that need legitimate help who do not go to the churches to get help?  What do you think?

      • Nikole Hahn

        Coming from someone who was in a position of losing everything, I can understand the pride, but I did not know the enormous amount of help, especially with food that was available to me. I didn’t want to go to a soup kitchen, but if I knew that I could get help with budgeting and advice, some assistance or even a box of food, in my desperate situation I would have taken it. The programs available just weren’t advertised well to people who didn’t live on the streets. I think the help you ask about could come from us if we reach out beyond ourselves to befriend people in church rather than sticking with our cliques. Get to know people so you can help as a friend or encourage them to places that help. 

        • Mark Lafler

          So true.  If we could break out of our shells and really relate with other people and care for each others needs.  Well stated.

  2. Andy Carlson

    Listening to the Holy Spirit, in each situation is necessary…sensing what his promptings are is important.  One of my first thoughts…I already, before taking a dollar out of my pocket, am contributing a significant part of my income toward their needs in the form of personal income tax.  As I see the needy, I think…why are they not already availing themselves the huge sums of money available to help.  Why are they not at the Salvation Army other other social service waiting with open arms to serve them.  I think of rebellion on the part of the many….yet am aware of the many physical, psychological and emotional reasons why they are unable or unwilling to submit to authority for their own benefit.  I am a bit miffed at those who beg…when answers are around the corner, literally. I am hesitant to serve those who choose to live a life style of the street. Secondly, if it is folks i see regularly around my place of act of generosity becomes an expectation and demand on their part if I do not make of habit for them from my own initial gift…..I am put in the position of feeling demanded upon and even used…no longer a generosity from me but an expectation by “them”…a guilt trip placed on my by their expectation of a “gift”…  Yes, it is a quandary…may the Holy Spirit guide me in each circumstance…I don’t have an answer to your questions

  3. Elizabeth

    When I see someone in these situations I have a couple of go-to responses.  Sometimes I keep items in my car that can be passed out, a new ball cap or water bottle/snack, and sometimes a hygiene kit of  misc items from the Dollar Store.  Other times if I am in a major city with a Starbucks within the block I invite them in as my guest and let them purchase what they would like.  My preferred response is to ask them what their needs are.  It is very easy for me to presume what they might need, or what they may elect to spend (waste) their money on, but if I ask them for some choices I am in a position to help them in ways I might not even imagine.  It has never been a negative experience, and one that is greeted with much appreciation.  

    • Andy Carlson

      Thanks….good and practical……


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do you give?

by Mark Lafler time to read: 1 min