Giving to the Poor – Not So Easy

Giving is easy right?  Just reach in your pocket and give, with a grateful heart.  Well, not so fast there, pardner.

How do you know you are helping, and not hurting?  How do you know you’re not feeding a drug or alcohol or tobacco habit?  How do you know if this is going to help, or is simply fueling a life-style that will never change or improve?

Ok, now brace yourself for a significant truth – giving money or gifts is usually the worse way to help an individual or family.  Wow…

Now that said, let’s be clear – there are times when a gift or money is the most appropriate response.  We are not saying anything against that.  We are saying when you think money or gifts will solve the problem – you are the one with a problem.  A problem in your thinking.

We are instructed by the scriptures to help the poor.  But, there are many ways in which to do this, and some are better than others.  Take the case of Bill and Melinda Gates.

Most of you know Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and one of the richest men on the planet.  His wife is Melinda Gates.  At some point it became clear to both Bill and Melinda that they had more than they would ever need.  What should we do with the excess?  To their credit, they decided to help those who were less fortunate.  But, how do you do this?  Do you just give to Red Cross, Salvation Army, or United Way?  They decided against that.  Then do you just hand out cash and try to solve poverty single-handed?  They decided that wouldn’t do, either.

They discovered that helping the less fortunate was a complicated task.  In fact, giving the wrong things can result in fueling black-market enterprises, such as is happening in the food stamp world.  There is a whole under-world economy that thrives on the trading of food stamps, that were originally designed to help those less fortunate.

Bill and Melinda knew this, but they were still determined to do something for the less fortunate.  So, after much study, they decided on using their wealth to provide vaccines for children in mostly third-world countries, that would ordinarily die from common diseases.  Very smart.

But, can we be as smart?  Well, we can, but it takes effort.  We first have to adjust our thinking that money or gifts solves the problem.  While there are times when money or gifts are appropriate, we must understand they are not the best ways.  The best ways are a bit more complicated.

Opportunity

The best gift anyone can receive is the gift of opportunity.  Opportunity is not a hand-out, it is a hand-up.  Instead of fixing someone’s problem, you give them the chance to solve it themselves.  Does it always work?  No.  But, it is still the best thing since sliced bread.  It goes along the same lines as the old proverb – “Give a man a fish, and you will feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for the rest of his life.”  Opportunity.  But, even the gift of opportunity depends on the willingness of the individual to grab the horns and wrestle it to the ground for themselves.

Although our government is determined to provide hand-outs to the needy and disadvantaged, I’m still convinced that the best solution would be to provide opportunity, not a hand-out.  Opportunity invites work and effort, while a hand-out promotes idleness.

Learning to give to the needy is not simple.  It requires lots of prayer and thought.  While there is still a place and time for handing out money or a gift, it is better if we can work out a way that provides opportunities. Isn’t that what Jesus did when he healed the lame, blind, and beggars?  Once they were healed they could no longer beg, but needed to go to work.

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One Response to “Giving to the Poor – Not So Easy”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    This is such a great blog and one that is so needed in our society today! You have the right concept here! I hate that we live in an “entitlement” world! Wish our entire government could read this article!! Blessings….

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