“There is a wonderful law of nature that the three things we crave most - happiness, freedom, and peace of mind - are always attained by giving them to someone else."
What is your philosophy on giving to beggars and such? My personal philosophy is simple: if I have something to give, I give it. What I decided long ago – and what I teach my children – is that it is not my business or responsibility to judge whether or not there is actually a need. What is my business is how I act when someone is professing a need and asking for help. So, I do what I can to supply the need with whatever I have at my disposal at the time: money, food, a listening ear. I feel I will be judged by God and myself for what I do and the intentions in my heart and the person asking for the help will be judged on their intentions and actions as well. If they are professing a need when they really don’t have one, or if they’re just relying on the charity of others to support their lazy, alcoholic, and/or drug-addicted lifestyle, that’s their problem.
There have been times when I’ve had an overwhelming feeling that I should not help someone, and I heed those feelings. But for the most part, probably some of the biggest regrets of my life have come from having something to give and withholding it.
I’ll share one of my experiences of regret and one of satisfaction.
As the mother of 4 children, there are times when I just need to get away and regenerate with some “me” time. So, I arranged for someone to sit with my kids and took my self out for a few hours of peaceful solitude. I don’t carry cash very often, so on my way I stopped at the bank and withdrew $10 so I could get some lunch at a place I knew did not take debit cards. But on the way to the place I had planned to spend the bulk of my time I encountered a sign-holding beggar at a freeway exit. I knew I had that ten-dollar-bill in my purse and my first inclination was to give it to the man. But there arose in my heart a string of rationalizations that prevented me from giving the man my lunch money. If I had two fives I feel confident that I would have given him half of my money without hesitation. But to sacrifice everything I had at that moment to a man that might be supporting an addiction…I just couldn’t do it. I latched onto that rationalization along with the vision of a peaceful lunch by myself at a favorite place and did not give the money. What I regret most about this whole experience is that my babysitter called with an emergency and I rushed home and never got that lunch anyway. I kept that ten-dollar-bill in my wallet for a long time to remind myself that I had an opportunity to give someone the shirt off my back and I willfully excused myself. The regret brings this quote to mind, "I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare." --C.S. Lewis