I've found over the years, that when it comes to the topic of giving money to a homeless person, people are on polar opposites. There are those that will give no matter what, and there are those that will avoid eye contact and think that all they are going to do is spend the money on alcohol/drugs anyway.
My husband and I are those opposites. I feel that it is my obligation as a Christian to give, without caring about what it is that person is actually going to do with the money. My husband, on the other hand, does not feel that way. Now, in his defense, he has said that he would rather give them food, which he has done in the past. I have as well, but I don't always drive around with extra food in my car. Know what I mean? So I will usually give whatever I have in my purse and be on my merry way.
Since the beginning of the year, I have been reading Proverbs 31:10-31, these verses are known as the "Proverbs 31 Woman" or the "Wife of Noble Character". I have been trying to utilize these scriptures to help me grow this year, as a wife, mother, entrepreneur, and overall better person. But to be honest, I had been completely ignoring verses 1 through 9. So, last night, I decided to read them, and came across these verses, starting with verse 6:
Let beer be for those that are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Now, let me also say this, I do not encourage or endorse drinking - but it's just a reality that many of these men and women on the street are depressed, and drinking is the only thing that makes that hurt go away and get them through another day. They don't have health insurance or the money to go get counseling and work through their issues. These men and women may be war veterans, a victim of child abuse, someone who has experienced a horrible tragedy and just can't quite get it back together. And while it is my desire that they would be healed from their wounds, and that they would be able to find a job, and be able to live on their own again - the sad reality is that it will not happen for most. And it seemed that the writers that contributed to the Bible knew this, over 2000 years ago.
These men and women want people to see them, talk to them, and maybe even offer to help. I used to see a homeless man at the shops around my neighborhood, and one day he approached me in the Savers parking lot. I only had hundreds in my purse, because I was getting ready to go to the bank. He asked if I had any spare change, and I told him I didn't. It was raining, and he had an umbrella. I had all the kids with me, and he said "Here, take this, I won't use it." And he gave me his umbrella. We walked into the store, and I could just feel that God wanted me to give him $100. I did not want to. We were cutting it close that month anyway because it was just after my husband had gotten out of the hospital from his motorcycle accident and he hadn't been working. $100 meant a lot to us that month. So I said, "Okay Lord, if he's still in the parking lot when I get done in here, I will give it to him." We finished up in Savers, walked out to the parking lot and didn't see him. I loaded the kids up in the car, and was driving out of the parking lot. Just as I was almost to the end of the driveway, I saw him and a buddy sitting on the sidewalk in front of an empty storefront trying to stay dry as the rain had picked up. I stopped my car, in the middle of the parking lot, jumped out and ran over to him with the money in my hand. I handed it to him and said "God wanted me to give you this, He loves you." And I jumped back into my car and drove off. I wasn't going to tell Aaron about it, but the kids did. And boy was he upset. But you know what, within days, we received an anonymous $100 gift card to a grocery store from someone at our church. And days after that received another $300 gift card from his grandma in Colorado. We didn't ask anyone for help, but God knew our needs and met them, in fact EXCEEDED them. (Ephesians 3:20-21) Several months later, I saw the man again in a Safeway parking lot. Again he approached me, and this time I truly didn't have any money, but I said "I saw you a few months ago, and you gave me an umbrella." His face brightened, and he said "OH! You know what we did? We went and got a hotel room and slept in a bed." I was filled with so much happiness, I just hugged him. I think I took him a little by surprise. haha We talked for a few more minutes about how he was doing, and then we said goodbye. I haven't seen him now for several years, but his umbrella is still tucked under the passenger seat in my car for a rainy day.
So, we don't know what someone is going to do with the money that we give to them. But, I'm of the mind that it's not up to us, it's just up to us to give out of the love that Jesus has for us. Like the video that I linked to below says, "You could've been their saving grace."
WHAT IF SHE'S AN ANGEL Video - ARTISTdirect Music