I was at a grocery store yesterday that attracts a lot of seniors. Some are very friendly and love to chat in line. I had such a lady behind me in line yesterday. She was all too happy and proud to tell me that her son and his family left for Turkey and that he’s a minister there. She proceeded to tell me that all her sons are ministers (or working on ministry degrees) and that her husband is a retired minister as well.

We changed up topics a bit to travel. She was telling me about some place that they visited that was lovely only… there were too many pan handlers. The tour guide told her that these pan handlers were perfectly able to work and chose to be pan handlers instead. Then she said “I’m not giving any of my money to those pan handlers!”.

She went on about them and how “if they can work, they should be working and not pan handling.” I shared with her the fact that I used to work in a Salvation Army soup kitchen in Washington DC and that even though they are on the streets and may have addictions that they still need to eat. She wasn’t interested.

I felt as though she just took this tour guides word for it and knows nothing about these people. Perhaps some can work but right now, there are A LOT of people who can’t find jobs. They could just be trying to support a family. She also made the judgement that she wouldn’t give her money to someone smoking. “If they can buy cigarettes, then they can buy food”.

I wondered where her compassion was and why she felt so strong about judging these people. I felt sad that she couldn’t try to see her way to the other side.. to try to put herself in their place.

When I see pan handlers, I give them money. It’s not my job to judge them, I don’t know their situation. Money is just a thing… it’s not part of my legacy on this earth. When I give it to someone else, I don’t have any attachment to it or what happens with it. 5 bucks might buy me a snack but it could be a dinner for their kid or them self… I could use it for my own pleasure and have a glass of wine or I might pay for their beer. People who live in the street have it rough. I got a glimpse of it working at the soup kitchen. Most of the people asking for money on the street have started out behind in life.. they are doing the best they know how in many cases.

Isn’t it Jesus who said “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me”?