The beggar on my front porch


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It was a chilly and rainy evening when the doorbell rang. A man, standing in front of me, crying. My first thought? Do I need to dial 9-1-1?

He proceeded to tell me, through sobs, his story of a sister and her boyfriend in a terrible car accident out-of-state. The news so devastating that he could hardly find the words between sobs.

He was short on cash; he doesn’t get paid till next week. He lives nearby with roommates. They are in no position to help much. He offered to rake my wet leaves for some money.

My first thoughts was, “This guy is good.” He knows I am a sucker. I almost never turn down giving a beggar on the street money, if asked.

But as we talked more, my heart sank for the guy. How desperate would you or I need to be to knock door-to-door begging for money? How low is your self-esteem in that moment?

He sucked me in. Hook, line and sinker.

Christians are commanded to help those in need. But how are we to know if the person professing a need is truly being honest? What if his words are true and I refuse to help? What if this guy actually scammed me to buy drugs, alcohol, or use the money to commit a crime?

Well then, give this man an Oscar.

I could find 10 Bible verses; five of why I was right to give this man money, and five as to why I shouldn’t have.

Truth? I don’t believe most people are ‘good’. I believe we are deeply flawed, not so good humans who fight everyday to choose the honest, good path. Perfectly “good” humans are capable of doing very bad things, like lying, cheating, stealing, even killing. Or, scamming a sucker in the suburbs.

Was he a scammer? My heart says, ‘no’ but my head says, ‘absolutely’. It’s a tricky thing. We are called to be led by the Spirit. In that moment I heard, “Yes.”

Only the Holy Spirit knows the truth of that beggar’s heart. That’s between him and God.

How I react is between Him and I.

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