This is from Robert D. Lupton’s book, Theirs is the Kingdom. I would like to challenge all of us to try viewing those less fortunate than ourselves through Christ’s eyes. If we could truly love one another (instead of judge), we could transform our world.
THE TRULY WORTHY POOR
People with a heart to serve others want to know that their gifts are invested wisely. At least I do. I don’t want my alms squandered by the irresponsible and the ungrateful. And since I’m often in a position to determine who will or will not receive assistance, I’ve attempted to establish criteria to judge the worthiness of potential recipients.
A truly worthy poor woman: Is a widow more than sixty-five years old living alone in substandard housing; does not have a family or relatives to care for her. Has no savings and cannot work; has an income inadequate for basic needs. Is a woman of prayer and faith, never asks anyone for anything but only accepts with gratitude what people bring her; is not cranky.
A truly worthy poor young man: Is out of school, unemployed but not living off his mother. Diligently applies for jobs every day; accepts gratefully any kind of work for any kind of pay. Does not smoke, drink, or use drugs; attends church regularly. Will not manipulate for gain either for himself or his family; is dependable and morally pure. Does not act “cool” or “hip” like his peers on the street. Has pride in himself and is confident; may sleep in alleys but is always clean and shaved.
A truly worthy poor young woman: Lives in public housing (only temporarily). Has illegitimate children conceived prior to Christian conversion; is now celibate. Tithes her welfare check and food stamps; is a high school dropout but manages well with limited resources. Places a high value on education and nutrition for her children. Walks everywhere (grocery store, church, school, welfare office) with her children to save bus fare and keeps her sparsely furnished home spotless. Occasionally runs out of food by the end of the month, but will not beg for “handouts.” Will not accept more than twenty-five dollars per month in help from friends even if her children are hungry because this violates welfare rules.
A truly worthy poor family: Is devout, close-knit. Has a responsible father working long hours at minimum wage wherever he can find work. Has a mother who makes the kids obey, washes clothes by hand, and will not buy any junk food. Lives in overcrowded housing; will not accept welfare or food stamps even when neither parent can find work. Always pays the bills on time, has no automobile. Has kids that do not whine or tell lies.
I want to serve truly worthy poor people. The problem is they are hard to find. Someone on our staff thought he remembered seeing one back in ’76 but can’t remember for sure. Someone else reminded me that maybe to be truly poor means to be prideless, impatient, manipulative, desperate, grasping at every straw, and clutching the immediate with little energy left for future plans. But truly worthy? Are any of us truly worthy?