So, Do You Only Help the “Righteous Poor”?


How many times have you and I given aid to someone and thought, “Well, they’re probably just going to blow it on drugs or booze”? If so, this article will get you thinking on this Monday morning.

This is a really strong article written by a pastor from my birthplace, Birmingham, Alabama, that explores one of the truly frustrating points of ministry that we deal with in our society. Joel Brooks, pastor of Redeemer Community Church, writes about the Biblical mandate to help others even if they aren’t grateful, even if they will misuse the help they are given. Post up in the comments section here on the blog and let me know what you think. Click on the link ti read the whole article:

Here’s an excerpt:

But any person who has actually spent time serving the poor realizes that it is not for the faint of heart. I have seen many passionate, bright-eyed Christians with a “heart for the poor” burn out in a matter of months or even weeks. This happens because the poor they serve often do not respond in the way they expect. As these generous people give of their time and money, they assume that the poor people they help will be appreciative and kind. Perhaps going into this they pictured a homeless man shedding tears of gratitude for the new coat and warm sandwich he received. Instead they receive not so much as a “thank you” or “God bless you.” Maybe they will even be criticized for the color of the coat or the sogginess of the sandwich. They quickly find out that some beggars can be choosers—and mean ones at that!

I experienced this firsthand recently when a homeless lady approached me and asked for money. I said that I’d buy her a meal instead. She loudly berated me in front of onlookers for this perceived insult until finally agreeing to let me buy the meal. As I walked in to the restaurant, she barked after me, “Combo number six with Dr. Pepper!” When I returned with her food, she got angry with me for bringing her the wrong dipping sauce. All in all, it was not a pleasant experience. I certainly didn’t leave with that “feel-good feeling” from helping the poor.

Certainly not all of the poor are like this. I have found many to be some of the most humble and gracious people I know, but there is no getting around the fact that some are just plain mean-spirited. Many are homeless and hungry as a consequence of their own evil actions. Often they will squander any aid you do give them. Many will never thank you or will even speak ill of you as you give of your time and money. So does our biblical mandate to help the poor mean that we are we to spend our lives helping out people like this? The answer is YES and without reservation. Jesus Christ calls us to help even the unrighteous poor.


2 comments on “So, Do You Only Help the “Righteous Poor”?”

  1. This must be a really unusual case. Most people I have tried to help are more than thankful for the help they get. Remember alot of these people are treated worse than animals, and the street makes u a cold and hard person. Judge not lest be judged!

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