First of all, it is good to want to help people by giving. The apostle Paul emphasized this in Acts 20:35, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (NKJV). In quoting these words of the Lord Jesus, Paul knew that Jesus was the greatest Example when it came to giving. In His earthly ministry He was constantly serving mankind by meeting their needs, whether it was to feed the hungry or to heal the sick. And at the end of His life He met man’s deepest need by “giving His life” on the cross of Calvary. The words of the Lord Jesus in Mark 10:45 come to mind: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

What was it that caused the Lord Jesus to devote His life to giving in order to meet the needs of others? In a word, LOVE. I had just mentioned how He fed the hungry and healed the sick. In Matthew 14:14 we read, “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was MOVED WITH COMPASSION FOR THEM, and healed their sick.” If we were to read on we would see that He also fed them. If we are going to give “in a Godly fashion” we need this same love and compassion for Mankind.

But we must also be DISCERNING. In the case we just looked at Jesus SAW THEIR NEED; they were HUNGRY and HURTING. They weren’t pretending to have needs, they were truly NEEDY. Scripture tells us that we are to be good STEWARDS of the money God has entrusted us with (see Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 16:1-12 and 1st Corinthians 4:2), so we should try to make sure there really is a need before we dig into our wallets to help.

The problem is we can’t always discern if one is in need. Your example of those standing on a corner asking for money serves to illustrate this. They may have on ragged clothes and be wearing a sad look on their face, but are they really destitute? If it is a man and he looks able-bodied, why isn’t he seeking a job? Scripture is very clear that if a man refuses to work he shouldn’t be supported with financial aid. In 2nd Thessalonians 3:10 the apostle Paul said, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” A friend of mine once walked up to a beggar and asked him if he was able to work and he said, “Yes, I could work.” He then offered to buy him a lawnmower so he could mow lawns to provide for his basic needs. The man walked away with a scowl on his face.

Regarding giving to charities, if it truly is a case where those overseeing the charity are getting rich, we should, as “good stewards,” look elsewhere. There are charities, like the Salvation Army and The Red Cross, that have excellent reputations and one could feel comfortable ministering to them. But even here, we need to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading and be sure in our hearts and minds that this is where the Lord would have us to give the money He has given to us. It may be that there are those in your family, or neighborhood, or local church that are in dire need. We are told in Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Let’s be “on the lookout” for those who are in real need; we may be surprised to learn that they have been right in front of us all along. (253.5) (DO)