Ray Bradbury wrote a short story about a couple on vacation in Ireland. The husband would go for walks down the streets in the town and would pass by many beggars. He would always feel guilty and give whatever he had in his pockets as he passed by. His wife on the other hand would give nothing. She had learned to keep her emotions in control and her money in her purse. She learned which ones were truly poor and which ones were just con artists. The husband over thought everything. He gradually got paranoid thinking they were all just con artists. One day he met a man on the bridge who sang and played beautifully. He stood in the rain and snow without even a hat on his head. The husband was so uncertain, was this a poor person or a con artist. So he took his wife with him to see the beggar on the bridge. They listened and watched him. Then they went home. The next day the husband decided to go back to the bridge and take the man a hat. When he got there the man was gone. Finally it came time for them to return home and the owner of their hotel stopped by their room. They were discussing the beggars in town and the man on the bridge came up. The owner informed them that the man had apparently thrown his instrument in to the river and jumped after it. Apparently he couldn’t take the rain, cold and lack of money anymore. A very sad ending to a story, but it makes a very good point. Sometimes we hold back, when we should be giving. We might just save a life.
It’s usually because we worry about ourselves that we don’t give to others. Will we have enough money to pay our own bills? What about the things we still need to buy? Or we don’t give because we think all the beggars on the street are Con-Artists out to steal from us. Or maybe they are druggies that are just going to take our money and get another hit. After all we don’t want to contribute to their problem. Proverbs 19:17 tells us what the Lord expects from us as God’s people:
Kindness to the poor is a loan to the LORD, and He will give a reward to the lender.
If we show kindness to the poor it is like giving to the Lord. The truth is it is between God and that person if they are really just a con artist. We can perhaps use common sense when helping those who have outstretched hands. If we are worried about our needs, we shouldn’t. God will take care of us. He will bless us for giving and helping those in need. He will reward us. So go ahead, drop some change in the cup please! Save a life. Keep someone from jumping off the bridge.