In a recent bible study discussion the question of guilt and remorse in responding to beggars or panhandlers was raised. The exact question was “What is the appropriate response which will not be followed by feelings of guilt on the one hand, or remorse, on the other?” The context for such feelings would be the knowledge or assumption of the person’s self-destructive behaviors such as alcohol or drug addiction.
The discussion prompted me to write a lengthy response in Hub Pages. I have, since then, received some feedback that encourage me to explore, even further, the wider issues of poverty and our response to the poor and the needy.
Although much of my discussion here and in coming posts will be based on biblical principles, we need to note that responding to poverty is a moral issue that every society addresses in some form. There is no known human society that has completely turned a blind eye to poverty. Furthermore, it is generally acknowledged that the moral character of any society is reflected in the way the society treats the least of its members.
I am proposing the acronym CARE as the focus of our discussion: Compassion, Action, Relief, Elimination. There is a thread that runs through the four words: The beginning is compassion which leads to action. The actions taken aim at providing relief in the short term, but elimination of poverty as the goal.
The fundamental biblical principle is that God is compassionate to the poor, the needy, the stranger, the marginalized – the least in a society. That is the motivation for us to be compassionate too. That will be our first discussion.