“Whoever is kind to the Poor Lends to the Lord…”
Have you ever stopped to pump gas only to have a person approach you and ask for money? Does it make you uncomfortable to go to the grocery store, only to have to pass a phalanx of people panhandling for change at the door? When you see a person at the entrance to the freeway with their hand out and a sign that reads, “Will work for food”, what do you do? Do you roll down the window of your car, go into your wallet and give them a dollar? Do you stop and talk with them?
Jesus taught that we should give to those who beg – Matthew 5: 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. 
Many who are proud to give their tithes to the church frown upon giving to the beggar. Yet, a close reading of the Bible and in particular the words of Jesus informs us that giving to the poor is also just as important as giving a tithe to the church.
I must confess that even though I am a pastor and would like to think a pretty good follower of Jesus, the truth of the matter is that there have been times when I walked past the beggar without making a donation. While I often give to the stranger who is begging in the street, there have been occasions when I did not give – If I thought they might be dangerous and sometimes when in my own mind it seemed like the person was hustling for alcohol or drugs.
Jesus does not talk about passing judgement upon the alcoholic or the drug addicted person. So, if I pass a person by, I pray a little prayer and ask the Lord to forgive me if that was a person I should have given to. I also do not like to be “Strong armed” by a beggar. These are the people who walk up to you while you are pumping gas and ask if they can pump for you. The other day two old men and a younger guy spotted me about fifty yards from my car where I was pumping gas at Jefferson and Pennsylvania Street on the east side of Detroit near my home. I saw them point to me and they split up with the two old guys stumbling towards the store of the gas station. The younger guy made a bee-line towards me. If gave me a sad story about the downward trajectory of his life. I just looked and listened and finally shook my head with a figurative “No.” I felt like they had targeted me, but I still asked the Lord to have mercy upon me.
I believe the Lord desires us to give to the poor. Thank you for reading this piece and I encourage you to take a moment to search your heart regarding your attitude towards giving to those who are in need.
Proverbs 19: 17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full. 
Questions for Reflection:
- When has it been difficult for you to be kind to the poor?
- How do you think the Lord repays those who are generous to the poor?
Lord, grant me a generous spirit. Teach me to be kind to the poor, welcoming of the beggar and to share with those who are starving. Help me to recognize when others are suffering. Help me to rise above the temptation to judge the poor. Free me that I might share what I have with the poor, the tired and the distressed. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Nicholas Hood III
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Hood at http:/nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
Get your copy of the new book by Rev. Hood: “The Test, The Strength, The Endurance,and the Way Out” at http://www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Mt 5:42). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Pr 19:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.