Scary stories from a lovely place

The ethics of helping the poor….

Lately I have been battling over the ethics of giving to the poor, particularly for Christian people – as that’s mainly what drives my relationship with said demographic type. Yesterday afternoon I was in the kitchen drinking tea with my friend Lelethu when Stephen phoned to say that our neighbour had phoned because Kenneth, a member of Stephen’s homeless fan club, was outside our house waiting for him and could I go and speak to him? Sure, that’s my favourite thing to do while I’m drinking tea and jawing over the week’s events. I dutifully filled up a plastic bag with half a loaf of bread, a banana and two oranges as bribery and out I went.

Our last two interactions with Kenneth have been both peaceful and stressful; mine involved driving him around chatting about how Stephen is scary when he is angry, but then ended in me crying because I couldn’t find him a shelter with rooms and it was really cold. Stephen’s involved being hugged by a very hungry and very high version of this young man while the neighbours looking on were as freaked out as Kenneth. Yesterday afternoon he looked bad. Sad, very skinny, bloodshot, wild eyes, shaking hands, unmoving from my gutter. I’m sure he would have rathered a shower, a meal with meat, a lot of money and the ability to use it rather than the bread and fruit I handed over. Poor guy.

I’ve written previously about how I struggle to know how to help the variation of homeless and poor people that I encounter everyday. It isn’t straight forward, even though I really really want it to be. I’m working on a more detailed post about this because, like much of this blog, I want answers to something I’m confused about.

For now I want to gauge what other people think. So, tell me…. what do you think is the responsibility of a richer person to a poorer person? How does an active relationship with God and trust in Jesus effect this? How then should Christians view their own money and spending of it? Is it everyone’s responsibility to look after the poor, or just those who encounter them? Answer any of those, say anything. I need help because I am confused!


3 comments on “The ethics of helping the poor….

  1. Lorna
    May 16, 2010

    Hi Kim, this topic is a minefield!! I struggle with it too. If you think about how Jesus ministered, He was gracious and merciful without minimising the person’s own responsibility for the choices they make e.g.”neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”. The challenge is working out how to strike that balance with the people we encounter. I confess to having more questions than answers.. looking foward to your further thoughts on the topic.

  2. Levy
    May 17, 2010

    Serving the poor is a basic tenant of the Christian faith.

    James 1:9-11 9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business

    This ha been a chellenging topic for me. First of all the the bible conforts those who are being challenge by porverty and seeks to tell those who are rich to not over look the poor.
    this would have to mean the rich have a responsibility over the poor.

    this world i would like to believe that it would be very much balanced if it was not of self enrichment but one takes their share and gives back to the world(without SARS forcing ppl to dpo do). if we are to wipe poverty it has to start with the person next to you or who you know might be hungry.

    just imagine if all those who have were to share with all those that do not have. be it supper , pen , book, knowledge, info…

    i once when i was young agreed to a friend who said ” in this world, for it to be interesting there has to some sort of imbalances. imagine if we where all rich , then life would not be interesting”. Interesting ? i dont know what we meant by that , but i take my words back.i have suffred enugh in my life to know that no imbalances of life are not needed.

  3. lynn
    May 17, 2010

    I asked Rendani from Bible College this question once and she gavr some good advice. She said that each instance should be treated independently seeking God of whther you should give in this moment as it is not realistic to give to everyone all the time- i have applied it and it giveds me the freedom to be generous but at the same time to know when not to give

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2010 by in Being a christian, Home, Life in South Africa and tagged .
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