Street Corner Handout – Yay or Nay?

Man seeking help and handout on street corner

Even Some Preachers Say Not To Give a Handout, Boomer Says Otherwise

For most of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to part with a few dollars to help out folks that ask. It often manifests itself in the form of a street corner beggar. If I have cash, there is rarely a time when I would not offer a handout to the less fortunate. Yet, I’ve heard many…even preachers, say this is a no-no. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

They say baby boomers are one of, if not the, wealthiest generations. While that may be true, those of us with a bit of disposable income didn’t fall on a pile of money, we worked our butts off for it, and we taught our children to do the same. I’m not blind to the fact that I’ve lived a pretty fortunate life. Still, we took a handout or two in the form of groceries or gifts in those tough, early years.

The Bible Says Give To The Poor

There are dozens of bible verses about giving to the poor and needy. I don’t care if you call it a handout or a donation; the bible does not stipulate anywhere that you should choose only an acceptable, vetted, 501c approved location to offer that handout.

Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Matthew 5:42 ESV

In today’s modern, always moving society, the street corner is the only place we stop long enough where those needy folks might get our fleeting attention. Imagine what it’s like, amidst all of those exhaust fumes, out in the weather, in a dangerous location. Most of the time we try not to even make eye contact.

Stop Lying To Yourself

I think many times we lie to ourselves. We heard one reputable voice one time say that we shouldn’t give a handout to street corner beggars. We saw a piece on 60 Minutes where they uncovered a scam and those beggars were pulling in $100k a year. Ok, sure that can happen. But look into the eyes of the next beggar you see. Look at their clothes, their belongings, and then their eyes again. Tell me they don’t need a handout?

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16

We tithe at church because it’s the right thing to do. We tip our waiters and waitresses because it’s the right thing to do. Yet, you can’t give $5.00 to someone literally begging for a handout on the street corner? Instead you drive away guilty, disobedient to God’s word, trying to justify your actions and even blaming them for being somewhere they shouldn’t.

Plan Ahead to Bless the Poor

Many of us have regular commute routines. If you regularly see the needy seeking a handout during that commute, plan ahead. We don’t often carry cash much these days, so you may have make a concerted effort to go get a few bills. Gift cards to 7-11, QT, or whatever local chain of convenience stores are in your area are fine too. Just try and avoid the high-end joints that a homeless person might not be willing to walk in to.

Don’t be afraid to pack the occasional $10 or $20 for the man or women that is so desperate, they’ve dragged their kids out onto the street corner with them. Bear in mind, you aren’t going to be able to bless every person, every time. This is where you have to let the Spirit of God lead your heart.

Feel free to include a note or card that simply says, Jesus loves you, but remember, these folks are hungry and usually homeless, it’s not a necessity. God said in Proverbs 19:17, “The one who is gracious to the poor lends to the LORD, and the LORD will repay him for his good deed.” He did NOT say that you had to throw in a tract too. Just give.

Beggar with Please Help sign looking for a handout.

What If They Use The Money For No Good

I’ve heard folks say that they don’t give a handout to “those kinds of beggars” because they’ll just use the money for alcohol or drugs. While this may end up being true, you simply don’t know that. Nor have you been assigned to be their moral guardian. God does not stipulate that when you give, you follow the recipient around and make sure they spend it on what you deem important.

Give A Handout, Enjoy The Blessing

If you are on the fence about giving a handout, then pray about it. It may be that this is not in your ministry wheelhouse at all. Still, giving to the poor and needy is one of the most basic tasks we are all called to do. Let God’s heart direct you. Plan ahead, and enjoy the feeling of helping another human being. Yes, you will be blessed by the Lord, but there is also an immediate joy you get from helping someone else and being obedient to the Lord.

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