What Does the Bible Say About..? Logo

What Does the Bible Say About..Giving Cash to Beggars?

My question relates to the "care not cash" homeless initiative in San Francisco. There is one group that believes Jesus gave cash to the beggars in Gallilee and they are using this to justify that cash should be given to the homeless. What do you say?


What I say has no value. Let us look at what the Bible really says.

I find no passage that says Jesus gave money to beggars. He healed a couple of beggars who were so because they were blind (John 9; Mark 10:46-52). But no mention is made of him giving, or telling others to give, to beggars. (Of course, no mention is made of him telling anyone not to give to beggars, either.)

He did advocate giving to the poor (Matthew 19:21). He would necessarily advocate that as it was a part of the Law of Moses and giving to charity is considered one of the most important mitzvot of Judaism. But giving to the poor is not the same as giving to beggars. The poor are those whose circumstances are less fortunate than the giver, but who are still trying to make a living through other means than begging. It is entirely possible that beggars were included among the poor, but many would consider that they should not be. The scriptures just don't say.

Anyone who claims Jesus gave money to beggars should be able to prove their claim or lose their credibility. I just don't see how they can prove such a claim from the Bible.

If cash is what a person needs the most (besides salvation), then cash should be given. But will giving money to the homeless change their situation? Would it not be better to give them shelter, training, treatment if necessary, and hope? Money in their hands will give them none of these things, unless it is substantial enough for them to purchase shelter, training, and treatment. Giving cash without these other things, and self respect, will not improve their situation. I know of no charity with sufficient funds to give that much money to every homeless person in Albuquerque, much less San Francisco. What Jesus gave the beggars that we know about was not money, but the ability to make a living without begging.