Of Panhandlers, parking meters and King Benjamin

Ever since I first read the fourth chapter of Mosiah, I have always tried to give money to anybody asking for it (within reason, of course).

Now, the city of Denver wants people to pump parking meters with money, which will then be given to homeless causes, rather than to give the money directly to the homeless.

To quote Grumpy in Snow White, “I’m agin’ it.”

First, let’s revisit what King Benjamin says:

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

King Benjamin’s message, along with other Standard Work teachings, seems very clear to me: we are expected to give to the poor personally. We are expected not to judge their circumstances but simply to give if asked.

Obviously, there are cases when you cannot give. It is not prudent to give a beggar a $50 bill if that is all you have and you need the money. It is not prudent to pull out a wad of cash in a bad neighborhood so you can give a beggar $1 (and perhaps be mugged yourself). It’s not wise to hand out money outside liquor stores and/or crack houses.

But, it seems to me, a clear understanding of the scriptures would indicate that if I am walking along 5th Avenue in New York and a panhandler asks me for some money, I am expected to give him some change. If I am driving around Miami, where I live, and a homeless guy comes to my window, I almost always give him some change. Whether he uses that money wisely is his problem, not mine. My responsibility is to give to those who ask (again, within reason).

Please note: I am not condemning those who decide not to give. I am simply sharing my interpretation of the scriptures.

It seems to me that there are lessons to be learned by personal giving. By the way, this is one of the reasons I generally oppose government-sponsored welfare programs and support church or other one-on-one charitable solutions. One of the clear lessons from the scriptures, it seems to me, is that we become better people by giving directly to those who are in need. Anything that gets in the way of our giving directly also gets in the way of our personal progression.

It seems to me that most things about the Gospel involve direct one-on-one contact. Jesus probably could have issued general directives that all blind and leprous people in Israel and the Americas be healed. But he didn’t do this. He visited people individually as a model for us. We are meant to do what he did: visit the sick and the poor and the widows and help them individually. That is what home/visiting teaching and other charitable work is all about. It helps us by helping others.

So, I say to the city of Denver: away with your parking meter homeless plan! Let’s get back to individual giving. Jesus said the poor will always be with us, and they are. They are accountable for their lives and their decisions. We are responsible for finding a way to give directly to them when asked.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

35 thoughts on “Of Panhandlers, parking meters and King Benjamin

  1. When I see someone with a sign that says, “Will work for food”, I always ask him or her: “What can I go buy you to eat?”

    The answer is usually: “I want money, not food.”

    My simply reply: “You need to change your sign.”

    I will admit that I am extremely jaded when it comes to homeless people. When I worked for one law enforcement agency in Arizona, we had a huge problem with homeless people and property crimes. We would raid homeless camps and find all kinds of stolen property (electronics items that homeless people could not exactly plug-in at their campsites and use). The homeless used the stolen property [and money] to buy drugs and alcohol.

    That said I am far more likely to support a program like Denver’s vs. giving money directly to a homeless person.

    Perhaps someday I can overcome my prejudice and be as charitable as you, Geoff. πŸ™‚

  2. Something that usually gets lost in these discussions.

    Most of the poor are not visible. The panhandlers, the homeless, the visibly poor are only a fraction of those in poverty in America. The real poverty is all around you, masked by easy credit. They are in your neighborhood, in your ward. People you know.

    And we throw a few easy dollar bills at the downtown panhandlers, while remaining oblivious to the needs around us.

    Most of my bankruptcy clients, you wouldn’t even know it by looking at them that they are impoverished, injured and in serious financial trouble.

    The panhandlers on the street corner are real people. But they also serve as an unspoken red-herring on our nation’s social conscience.

  3. Geoff, I’m so glad someone else has read this scripture! We had lots of panhandlers in Houston, and we heard talks in Church all the time preaching withholding of our money because 1. they would just spend it on something counter to the WoW, 2. if we gave it to the Church or a government program they would be better served, or 3. you must keep your money to help your own family.

    I’m not wealthy, but I can always give something, and it turns out to be quite enjoyable. When I went to the grocery store, I always got a little treat for the man with the long bushy beard who regularly stood outside. There was a corner that panhandlers frequented where they often brought children with them to stand in the hot sun all day long and elicit sympathy. I began to carry water bottles in my car to hand out at that corner. One day as I was driving to the mall, I saw a man standing there with an adorable little puppy dog and a sign. A few hours later I passed him on the way home and piled up all around him were cans and cans and cans of dog food!

    Engaging with the poor is a necessity. Look them in the eyes as you pass! “There but for the grace of God go I.”

  4. Brian, I know you didn’t mean the end of your comment #1 in a snarky way, but I must point out that I don’t consider myself especially charitable. I probably pay a maximum of $5 a month to panhandlers (much more when I lived in Brazil). It’s not like I’m going broke paying money to people on the streets or even changing my lifestyle in any way. I pay my tithing and my fast offerings and occasionally make other small charitable contributions.

    This scripture from Mosiah 4 just tugged at me when I read it. I just couldn’t find any other way around it. It seems like a commandment to me personally.

    Again, no comment on anybody else. Just my interpretation of it.

    BinV, I’m very glad we agree on this scripture. I’ve never heard anybody at church preach about withholding money from people. It seems to me to directly contradict the scriptures (again, I’m talking about giving prudently).

  5. Thanks for this very thought-provoking post, Geoff. I think I understand your point, and I absolutely agree that “we are expected to give to the poor personally. We are expected not to judge their circumstances but simply to give if asked.” I really liked Bored in Vernal’s way of dealing with those who ask for help!

    But I am not so sure that parking meters used to collect money for the homeless is such a bad idea. It seems much like the collection boxes one sees in banks and other places in large cities. I think they encourage us to give in an orderly way to help those in need. Surely shelters that offer food and a place to spend the night are necessary; and I actually think that efforts to discourage panhandling while supplying needed services to the destitute are worthy of support.

    After all, although Christ exemplified interaction with those in need, he also recommended anonymous giving of alms; and modern prophets have encouraged us to both contribute a generous fast offering to help members in need, and to donate to the Humanitarian Fund to help anyone in need, all over the world.

    Personal giving is wonderful. However, the circumstances of many of us living now are quite different than those of King Benjamin. There were probably no cities the size of Salt Lake then, not to mention the mega-cities of over ten million we have in the world today.

    In large cities, panhandling can really become a public nuisance. Many of those in real need can find help from churches and/or shelters. However, as you know, there are people who choose to live a homeless life. If not controlled, begging could drive people from downtown shopping areas, and they could gradually become ghettos where most of us would fear to tread.

    If we live in the suburbs, we probably rarely encounter beggars, and thus it is easy to give a few dollars when we see one on an occasional basis. Those who live or work in NYC, however, may encounter the same “professional” beggars every day, playing on the sympathies of passers-by. What are they to do? I once attended a SS class in a NYC suburb when the subject of giving to beggars came up. A brother who encountered many of them every working day said that since he couldn’t constantly give to all he met, he tried to be in tune with the Spirit, to give something to those he felt inspired to give to. That seemed a very good solution for his particular situation.

    I really liked the idea of a mission president’s wife in Lima, Peru. She kept little packets of crackers in her car, and when beggars approached her window while she was stopped at a traffic light, she would give crackers instead of coins. From the time I heard that, I tried to do the same whenever we lived in third world countries. That seemed a good solution for our situation at the time.

    Perhaps each of us needs to examine our circumstances, as well as our hearts, and see how we can best follow King Benjamin’s advice. Maybe many beggars approach us nearly every day, and we can give at least some of them, something. Maybe, like Bored in Vernal, we can help out those we meet, and give them a smile as well as food or money. Maybe we hardly ever met someone begging on the street, but we can give generously to the Church and local homeless shelters, and then find other ways of interacting and sharing personally with those in need.

  6. Geoff,
    This is an interesting issue that has many, many shades of gray. I wrote about it a couple years ago and someone made a very interesting comment regarding our judgement of the person begging. He said, “the scripture says is that we shouldn’t judge them for how they got in that position. We’re free to judge how they are likely to use the money we might give them, because the whole message of the scripture is to give so that they can help themselves. But if, in your judgement, they are more likely to spend it on drugs, alcohol etc, they are clearly not helping themselves (that is, NOT getting themselves by food, clothes, shelter), I don’t think your obligated to give at all.”

    I thought that was an interesting, perhaps useful way to look at it.

  7. Geoff, when I was in Brasil, I struggled with myself as I tried to find enough money to leave with a poor member family my companion and I were visiting with. They lived in a home with a dirt floor, had very little to eat, but gave so willingly of their food when we came to visit.

    I dug into my pocket and tried to think of how much money I could leave them without leaving myself without the means to eat. Moreover, I could not think of a good place to hide the money where they would find it– I did not want them to know that I was leaving them the money. I was new to the mission, did not know the value of the currency very well and could not find a place to leave the money.

    Later that night, when my companion and I had returned home, I gave the most heartfelt prayer I had ever uttered to that point in my life. I pleaded with the Lord to bless that family who gave so willingly in the midst of their poverty to the Lord’s missionaries. The Lord heard my prayer, I am sure, and I trust that the family was blessed for their sacrifice.

    I long to be the person I was on my mission. My experiences in life are conflicted when it comes to giving money to the poor. Perhaps I need to utter more heartfelt prayers and open my heart…and wallet a little more often.

  8. There are many agencies to help the poor and those in dire circumstances. There are over 2,000 such agencies and organizations in metro Indianapolis alone, according to the “Rainbow Book”, http://www.connect2help.org/publications.html

    So there is no shortage of people willing and able to help with other people’s problems. The crux is to match them up.

    I have a veteran friend who literally stops for all people whenever they have a sign that says “Homeless Vet” or “Will Work for Food”. She offers to let them do odd jobs for food, or offers to take them to a homeless veretan outreach center where they can get emergency shelter, a hot meal, etc. She reports that absolutely none of them have taken her up on her offer, they all want a monetary hand-out.

    I’ve occasionally made the same offer. No homeless vet wants me to take them to the homeless vet center.

    I think there are extremely few homeless people or street beggars who are unaware of the many programs available to help them. The vast majority of homeless people have one or more of three issues: mental illness, substance abuse, or criminal history. And the criminal history is usually associated with one of the former two.

    And the more I get to know Mormons, the more I see those three things in our own church: mental illness, drug abuse, and criminal history. We cover the whole spectrum of humanity too.

    I too feel a modern tug of King Benjamin’s ancient words. Yet $5/month doesn’t quite ease my conscience. Here are some worthwhile charities outside of the LDS donation slip:

    Indigenous People’s Technology and Education Center:


    Orphanage Support Services Organization, supports orphanages where I served a mission in Ecuador:


    One of my favorites:


    Christian Children’s Fund used to have Sally Struthers as spokesperson.

    Other good ones with low overhead and fundraising expenses (as a percent of donations) are:


    and International Rescue Committee:


    IRC has (or had) Liv Ullman as spokesperson.

    To read ratings of charities, see their overhead/fundraising expenses, see:


  9. Wow, a lot of really great comments here. Thanks for participating. I can really feel the Spirit here. This is a great thing, discussing the needs of the poor and doing Christ’s work rather than arguing over politics. I need to do this a lot more.

  10. #6 seems to be along the lines of what I encountered from church members in Houston. Many people have the perception that the “whole message of the scripture is to give so that they can help themselves.” My reading of King Benjamin’s address is just the opposite. He seems to say that we should give even if we know they will not use the money wisely. Does anyone else read it this way? Are there other scriptures which reinforce the concept that we should withhold giving from those who are incapable of using it wisely?

  11. Bored,
    I don’t think that the point is that we should “withhold giving from those who are incapable of using it wisely” but rather we should give to sources that can help those people learn how to escape from having to ask people to give to them. On my commute to work every day I encounter at least three or four panhandlers, always the same ones, asking me for money. These guys are well-known in our neighborhood, panhandling is their “career” (an editorial was written on one of them a couple years ago at http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/archives/23/index.html if you don’t believe me (M* isn’t allowing me the HTML for a link). The guy is doing just fine.

    I guess my question is where do we draw the line? What if we see a pandhandler that isn’t dressed so bad? What about if a random teenager asks you for money? I just don’t buy it that King Benjamin was trying to tell us to give money to anyone who asks. We need to use a bit of discretion and my discretion says that if I know for a fact that the person is going to use the money for drugs then I’m helping him in his drug habit, not alleviating my conscience of selfishness.

  12. Brian, if everyone in this world thought like you do, we would all be better off.

  13. Brian D. (#7) I think most missionaries newly arrived in third-world countries have similar feelings. It’s hard for most Americans to adjust to seeing people with so few material things. But your reaction shows that you learned to trust in the Lord, and no doubt you soon came to realize that people can be happy with very few things. Missionaries are usually told not to give money to anyone, for at least a couple of reasons: the support money they receive is consecrated for that purpose; we don’t want crowds of people seeking out the missionaries for material handouts, rather than the word of God.

    I remember hearing a missionary who served in the Dominican Republic tell of how he helped a drunken man who approached him and his companion, asking for money. He answered with a modern variation on what Peter said in Acts 3:6, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee.” He then explained that he was a missionary of Jesus Christ, and he had a message that could change the man’s life. The man agreed to listen to the discussions, and was eventually baptized. πŸ™‚

    Bored in Vernal (#13) That Dom. Rep. example perhaps gives one scriptural example of when not to give money. I guess I don’t think giving money is always what Jesus would do, or (more to the point) what He would like us to do. But many times, it probably is; and maybe we ought to be more concerned with listening for the promptings of the Spirit when we are confronted with a petition for help.

  14. RoAnn,
    That’s a nice story, I’m glad it worked out for that drunk guy. But I’ll tell you what, in Guatemala I was approached by drunks BEGGING for us to help them. Of course when we show up when they’re sober they don’t want anything to do with us. Of all the amazing conversion stories I heard in Guatemala, I only know of one that involved a drunk getting baptized.

    I think RoAnn is exactly right. King Benjamin is talking about “food” and “substance” which can be interpreted as many different things. If I know the guy is going to spend my money on drugs then I’m actually buying the guy drugs…not exactly food or substance. I’m going to try to follow the Spirit and use some common sense rather than use some kind of one-interpretation (money)-fits-all rule.

  15. Rusty, When I worked security at the Mesa Arizona Temple, I used to encounter drunks on an almost daily basis. They would wander over from the park across the street looking for a hand out. When I had enough money, I used to walk them over to the Arby’s near the temple and buy them food. They were always thanking me profusely, saying how they wanted to get sober. When they were sober, though, all they talked about was getting something to drink.

    I like the story of Peter healing the lame man in front of the temple:

    6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

    (New Testament | Acts 3:6)

  16. “Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” D&C 42:42

    It seems to me that it is never a good idea to give money to strangers. It makes us feel good, but does a lot of harm to society.

    The drunken, addicted, and mentally deranged panhandlers that blight our cities are all recieving social security disability checks and are covered by medicaid. They can all get basic food and housing in homeless shelters. Begging just supplements their income. Bring back the vagrancy laws!

  17. Paul, oftentimes the vagrancy laws are perpetuating problems. In my experience, the homeless look forward to being arrested as it affords them a hot meal and a bed. Sadly, enforcing vagrancy laws does little more than clog up the court system. When charged with vagrancy, the homeless often miss their court dates, which results in an arrest warrant for failure to appear. Simply put, they are constantly being arrested either for vagrancy, or for FTA warrants stemming from prior vagrancy arrests.

  18. Geoff,

    I have long read and interpreted King Benjamin’s remarks the way you do.

  19. I think it’s fair to say that of all canon, I struggle with these verses the most in terms of application; it’s not that I don’t give, but that I almost always have to talk myself into it. A lot.

    I do worry that the money will go to buy wine and not food. I do worry that the person is not as destitute as he or she is representing. I do worry that I’m being scammed. And I’m not sure I’ve come to a good place intellectually with all of that. But I recently decided (and have to constantly remind myself that I’ve decided) that I’m going to err on the side of charity, and hope God will forgive my naivete rather than erring on the side of parsimony and having God applaud my good judgment. It seems a safer choice–at least for me.

  20. I feel we need to stay in tune with the Spirit and give accordingly. Seldom does the Spirit tell me to give to panhandlers. I frequently walk along both the North Temple and West Temple sides of Temple Square. All the prime spots are staked out by the same people, month in and month out (often year in and year out.) I started to confront a guy on West Temple who hit everyone up everyday for over 3 years to get “bus fare to Provo.” Considering the number of people I saw giving to him, he could have traveled to your city, no matter where you live. I started saying things to him, like, “I would think you long since have had your bus fare.” Once he even told me that this was his “job”. I never feel bad about not giving to the “Temple Square regulars”. (All of the people around Temple Square are regulars–and they reportedly chase off anyone new who is trying to move in on “their (prime) territory”) However, I do feel I am very generous in multiple ways that I think might really help. Talking to my bishop recently he said that 30 years ago when he was first our bishop he only had about 6 welfare cases the whole time he was bishop. This time it is multiple people every week. And we don’t look like a “down and out” ward. I especially try to be very generous with Fast Offerings, since they probably do the most good closest to home. But it is a continuing challenge to know what to do in specific cases.

  21. Marjorie, I know about those Temple Square beggars. I’ve seen them in SLC, and they certainly don’t seem down and out to me. It appears they are professional beggars who have chosen to take advantage of the Christ-like spirit of those going to the temple. I try to imagine that in Jesus’ day there were probably a lot of similar beggars around Jerusalem. In a way, it’s a compliment to God’s people that they are there around the temple. It’s supply and demand, after all.

    All I can say is: “are we all not beggars?” It doesn’t kill me to give them a dollar when I go to the temple once or twice a year. And even if I went every week, you’re talking about $45-50 a year. That’s not going to bankrupt anybody in the U.S.

    I’m not judging your decision — I agree that you have to listen to the Spirit and do what is right. I’m just trying to provide food for thought.

  22. Geoff,
    But the question is where do you draw the line? I mean, do you give money to any stranger that walks up to you and asks for it? How about if your nephew were to walk up to you and ask for money? Do you give him money? Why or why not? Is it different from the stranger? Why or why not? I’m being sincere asking this because I think that everyone has their lines, I’m just interested in why people mark their lines where they do.

  23. Rusty, I think your question is an excellent one, and I also agree that it will vary from person to person and situation to situation. Personally, I give beggar/family member who asks (within reason) if I have the money and if I can do it without endangering my personal safety and the safety of my family members.

    Walking through downtown at Miami at night with a big wad of cash in my pocket going to a concert/sporting event and a rough-looking bum approaches. No money, walk away quickly, avoid eye contact.

    Walking through downtown Miami during the day, $30 in my pocket with some singles, young woman approaches and asks for money, give her $1.

    Driving through Miami, homeless guy looks like he could work asks for money, give him 50 cents.

    Driving through downtown Miami, homeless guy approaches menacingly and is drunk and possibly aggressive, go through the red light to get away (after checking to see if there is any cross traffic), no money.

    Walking through Temple Square to go to the temple, obvious professional beggar asks me for money, give him $1.

    General default position: give money to people who ask for it as long as it is safe and practical.

  24. Following up on BiV’s comment, I just got sent this:

    Different Type of Prayer

    Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and was rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

    Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

    Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

    Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

    Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not just to those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

  25. I have shared my name and asked theirs. So far nobody has told me their name. Also, there are mulitple panhandlers I encounter every day. I often do smile and say hello, so I am not looking through them. I have been known to make two trips, that’s 4 times past the same spot on some days. I always walk the West Temple route twice a day. When you multiply that by the number of days and times and persons, this could truly become staggering! I am more likely to give to someone I haven’t seen before than the “professionals”. I am also more likely to give on a route I don’t walk all the time. I have noticed that a few generous souls have lived to regret giving, because they are now always approached and sometimes quite aggressively.

  26. Marjorie, it sounds like you have the kind of situation where it would not be “reasonable” to give to multiple people multiple times every day. No problem there. If I were in your situation, I would be selective and just be motivated by the Spirit. It’s different for me — I go to the SLC temple just once or twice a year. I wonder if the Apostles give to all the panhandlers in Temple Square? Just a thought.

  27. I’ll bet hardly any Church leaders even ever see these people. With proper passes you can move virtually anywhere on the Church campus through tunnels.

  28. For what it’s worth, the church has signs near the exits of the Salt Lake Temple encouraging patrons to donate to charity instead of giving money to the panhandlers outside.

    One time my brother-in-law arrived too late to a wedding at the Salt Lake Temple to attend the ceremony, and chose to panhandle with the indigents while he waited for the rest of the party. He made $7 in 40 minutes dressed in church clothes.

  29. These scriptures have tugged at my heart, too, and I have tossed many a coin into a hat or can. But I also respect the counsel we receive in the SL area to find other ways to serve and help rather than giving directly to the panhandlers. Welfare principles burn in my heart as well, and where there are resources to help those in need close and available, I don’t know that it helps to facilitate a beggar’s life. I’ve considered giving out a card in SLC with the address of the homeless shelter. πŸ™‚

    I think so much depends on our hearts, too, with all of this. I have started taking the approach of giving goods rather than money when possible. I recently passed a woman with a sign near the distribution center in Provo. I had a half loaf of bread and bottles of water in my car. I gave her both. (It was cold. I think I remember also reading that there isn’t as much help for homeless in the south part of the valley, so I was that much more motivated to do something.)

    What I have found, though, is that it helps ME sometimes to give rather than walk by, but I’m not sure that it’s always the right thing to do so for THEM. THAT’s a hard line for me to figure out. Should I give because it feels good to not walk past or ignore someone (since I DO want to be a giving person and follow King Benjamin’s counsel), even if it ends up not really being the best thing for them? King Benjamin does not give easy answers for the many facets of this question.

  30. I had this conversation with a counsellor of mine.

    A drunk man was panhandling in our parking lot. My counsellor — and several others — did not give him any money. When he came to our vehicle, we gave him some change we had lyign around (I never carry cash).

    When my counsellor and I talked about it later, he asked why I did it, saying the man would probably use it to buy more beer. I told him that King Benjamin taught me to give, so I did.

    Will he use it for beer? Probably. That’s not for me to determine though.

  31. There’s a part of the King Benjamin speech that is very important to remember.

    Mosiah 4:27 “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”

    Yes, we need to give to the poor, but we need to do it wisely. We shouldn’t run faster than we have strength, which I interpret to mean that we shouldn’t give more than we can afford to give, and we need to be wise in our giving so that our giving goes to it’s most beneficial use. Giving to organizations through fast offerings or supporting our local homeless shelters will be much more effective than handing a street corner panhandler a fiver because we feel guilty.

    I’ve never felt the need to give to the poor directly and I don’t think there’s any mandate that requires us to do so. In fact we’ve been commanded to do these things in secret so that we get our reward in heaven.

  32. Dennis, I think you make a legitimate point, and I point out several times that we need to reasonable (ie, using wisdom and order) in our giving. You read the scriptures differently than I do, and that’s your right. If you feel in your heart you are doing it the right way, and have pondered the issue with charity, more power to you.

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