The instructor in my Book of Mormon class shared some of his thoughts with his students this week. I have been pondering his ideas for a couple of days and decided to share some of them with my readers. What follows are his ideas in my words. I am sure he explained it much better than I will, but I hope you get the idea.
I assume that you have seen homeless people; I also assume you have heard many stories about how they are not really homeless and in need of money and food. I have heard stories about some of them begging for money on street corners and then getting in a nice car to drive to a nice home. I have also heard of women who bring children to help them beg. I have read signs telling us not to give money to the people because it will just enable them. I personally do not have much contact with homeless people; however, I have no idea what I should do when contact is made. Should I give them money or not? What if they use the money to buy alcohol or drugs? Should I carry food in my car to hand to them? What should I do? Like I said, I do not see many homeless people, but I do make regular donations to help the poor among us. I make regular donations to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know the Church will use 100% of the money to help the poor.
According to King Benjamin, a prophet-king in ancient America, I do not need to worry about how my money will be used. My instructor pointed out that it doesn’t matter how the poor uses the money. If my heart is in the right place when I give, the Lord will bless me for giving no matter what the person does with it. King Benjamin left some counsel that may help us. King Benjamin was nearing the end of his address. The Holy Ghost was there in rich abundance; the people were ready to make a covenant with God. King Benjamin addressed the problem of beggars.
“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 –
“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.
“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?
“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 our mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
“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” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 4:17-21).
My instructor compared the homeless people who need food to the people around us who ask us for forgiveness. Do we withhold our forgiveness because they brought the problem on themselves? Do we refuse to forgive them and allow them to move forward with their lives? The Lord tells that we must forgive in order to be forgiven. The Lord will respond to our pleas for forgiveness in the same way we respond to other people. Are we not all beggars?