Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 5, 1964

The Beggar

Fred A. Shewmaker

We have all heard the story. "The car broke down over in 'Yonder Town' and the money ran out here in 'Your City.' My granddaddy on my mother's side is dying in Remote Village, Next State,' and I must get there before he is gone."

It appears to me that far too many members of the Lord's Body do not know just what to do when confronted with such pleas for assistance. Most of us seem to realize that the story may not be the plain truth. But then we begin to question ourselves. What if this story is true? What am I to do?

Gal. 6:10 tells individual Christians, "as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." In Matt. 5:42 Jesus said, "give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away."

But don't draw your billfold yet. Our doing good Is regulated by other passages. In Rom. 15:2 we are told, "let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification." Paul reminded the Thessalonians in lI Thess. 3:10, "when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." If our guest happens to be a vagrant it would be a violation of these passages to give him that for which he is asking.

What are we to do in such cases? Why not conduct an investigation? Not that the scripture obligates Christians to assist anyone to get from one place to another as it obligates us to do such things as: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide shelter for the stranger, (James 2:12-16; Matt. 25:34-36) and furnish medical care for the sick or injured; (Lk. 10:30-37) but because Christians, like Christ, are kind, tender hearted, and compassionate. They are willing to be so used by those who are actually in such circumstances. We as individuals are at liberty to use our finances to help those who become victims of such misfortune. In Acts 5:4 Peter asked Ananias about his possessions, "whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?" However, even though we are at liberty to help those who have had misfortune we are restricted from contributing to the upkeep of "dead beats."

How should the investigation proceed?

1. Suggest calling friends or brethren of your guest in the place that he came from to ask them to send assistance by telegraph.

This is what most of us would do if we were to be so unfortunate.

2. If your guest objects to the first suggestion, ask for references. Ask for the names of people you can contact by telephone to establish his identity and background.

Neither of these efforts to confirm the story you have been told may be a fruitful pursuit because of the transient habits of your guest.

3. In this case suggest calling the people where he is going to establish that he is known by them and that the conditions there are what has been reported to you.

At this point you may be told that the people where he is going do not have a telephone.

4. Suggest that in that case we can call the police there and ask them to confirm the story.

By this time your guest may have become angry. If he does; comply with the teaching of Rom. 15:2. Edify him for his good by instructing him concerning a Christian's duty to refuse help to certain kinds of people.

Any Christian should be happy to cooperate in establishing his identity and to confirm his circumstances. If you find it impossible to establish that the story of your guest is true save your money to help someone who can confirm his story of misfortune.

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