Should We Be Giving Charity to The Poor?
My mom seems to believe that most, if not all homeless people, are drug addicts and/ or alcoholics, and therefore will squander any money she gives them. Due to this belief I have never seen my mom give any money to a homeless person asking for money ever. Not only that, but she has also condemned me for helping the homeless! My mom will however help friends and family members in need, as well as donate money to organizations that help animals. My father, on the other hand, has always demonstrated compassion towards the homeless. I remember one time at any early age when I was in the NYC subway station with my dad and he handed a homeless man a $20 bill (which was a lot to give in the 80's.) With a real positive happy energy he reminded me that if I can help someone in need then I should do so. I think he felt that he was providing me with a very important life lesson...which he was! My father also tends to help family members and friends in need.
So should we be giving charity to the poor or not? Is the charity we give really helping the poor? Is it helping anyone?
According to the book "The Game of Life and How to Play it" by Florence Scovel Shinn (in the Prosperity Bible), "Man receives only that which he gives." "Giving opens the way for receiving. In order to create activity in finances, one should give. Tithing or giving one-tenth of one’s income, is an old Jewish custom, and is sure to bring increase. Many of the richest men in this country have been tithers, and I have never known it to fail as an investment. The tenth-part goes forth and returns blessed and multiplied. But the gift or tithe must be given with love and cheerfulness, for “God loveth a cheerful giver.” Bills should be paid cheerfully; all money should be sent forth fearlessly and with a blessing. This attitude of mind makes man master of money. It is his to obey, and his spoken word then opens vast reservoirs of wealth."
According to the book "Creative Mind and Success" by Ernest Holmes (in the Prosperity Bible), "Thoughts of failure, limitation, or poverty are negative and must be counted out of our lives for all time. Somebody will say, “But what of the poor; what are you going to do with them; are they to be left without help?” No; a thousand times no. The same Power is in them that is in all men. They will always be poor until they awake and realize what life is. All the charity on earth has never done away with poverty, and never will; if it could have done so it would have done so; it could not, therefore it has not. It will do a man a thousand times more good to show him how to succeed than it will to tell him he needs charity. We need not listen to all the calamity howlers. Let them howl if it does them any good. God has given us a Power and we must use it. We can do more toward saving the world by proving this law than all that charity has ever given it."
According to the book "The Science of Getting Rich" by Wallace D. Wattles (in the Prosperity Bible),
"Do not spend your time in charitable work, or charity movements; all charity only tends to perpetuate the wretchedness it aims to eradicate. I do not say that you should be hard-hearted or unkind, and refuse to hear the cry of need; but you must not try to eradicate poverty in any of the conventional ways. Put poverty behind you, and put all that pertains to it behind you, and “make good.” Get rich; that is the best way you can help the poor. And you cannot hold the mental image which is to make you rich if you fill your mind with pictures of poverty.
Do not read books or papers which give circumstantial accounts of the wretchedness of the tenement dwellers, of the horrors of child labor, and so on. Do not read anything which fills your mind with gloomy images of want and suffering. You cannot help the poor in the least by knowing about these things; and the widespread knowledge of them does not tend at all to do away with poverty. What tends to do away with poverty is not the getting of pictures of poverty into your mind, but getting pictures of wealth into the minds of the poor. You are not deserting the poor in their misery when you refuse to allow your mind to be filled with pictures of that misery. Poverty can be done away with, not by increasing the number of well-to-do people who think about poverty but by increasing the number of poor people who purpose with faith to get rich.
The poor do not need charity; they need inspiration. Charity only sends them a loaf of bread to keep them alive in their wretchedness, or gives them an entertainment to make them forget for an hour or two; but inspiration will cause them to rise out of their misery. If you want to help the poor, demonstrate to them that they can become rich; prove it by getting rich yourself. The only way in which poverty will ever be banished from this world is by getting a large and constantly increasing number of people to practice the teachings of this book. People must be taught to become rich by creation, not by competition. Every man who becomes rich by competition throws down behind him the ladder by which he rises, and keeps others down; but every man who gets rich by creation opens a way for thousands to follow him, and inspires them to do so. You are not showing hardness of heart or an unfeeling disposition when you refuse to pity poverty, see poverty, read about poverty, or think or talk about it, or to listen to those who do talk about it. Use your willpower to keep your mind OFF the subject of poverty, and to keep it fixed with faith and purpose ON the vision of what you want."
According to the book "Prosperity" by Charles Fillmore (in the Prosperity Bible), "It is not a crime to be rich nor a virtue to be poor, as certain reformers would have us think. The sin lies in hoarding wealth and keeping it from circulating freely to all who need it. Those who put wealth into useful work that contributes to the welfare of the masses are the salvation of the country. Fortunately, there are many in this country who have the prosperity consciousness. If we were all in a poverty consciousness, famines would be as common here as they are in India or China. Millions in those lands are held in the perpetual thought of poverty and they suffer want in all its forms from the cradle to the grave. The burden of the poverty thought reacts on the earth so that year after year it withholds its products and many people starve."
"The world cannot be free from the bondage of debt and interest until men start to work in their minds to erase those things from consciousness. If the United States forgave the nations of Europe all their debts and wiped the slate clean, the law would not necessarily be fulfilled; for there would probably remain a thought that they still owed us and that we had made a sacrifice in canceling the obligations. We should not feel very friendly about it and would not truly forgive them, and in that case the error thought would be carried on. We must first forgive the error thought that they owe us money and that we would be losing money by canceling the debts. The man who is forced to forgive a debt does not forgive it."
"Above all we should fill our mind with the consciousness of that divine abundance which is so manifest everywhere in the world today. There is as much substance as there ever was, but its free flow has been interfered with through selfishness. We must rid our mind of the selfish acquisitiveness that is so dominant in the race thought, and in that way do our part in the great work of freeing the world from avarice. It is the duty of every Christian metaphysician to help in the solution of this problem by affirming that the universal Spirit of supply is now becoming manifest as a distributing energy the world over; that all stored-up, hoarded, vicious thoughts are being dissolved; that all people have things in common, that no one anywhere lacks anything; and that the divine law of distribution of infinite supply that Jesus demonstrated is now being made manifest throughout the world. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”
"“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give unto your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.” Promises of spiritual benefits and increase of God’s bounty through the keeping of this divine law of giving and receiving, abound in all the Scriptures."
“There is that scattereth, and increaseth yet more; And there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth only to want. The liberal soul shall be made fat; And he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; For he giveth of his bread to the poor.” “He that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” “Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters.”
"True giving is the love and generosity of the Spirit-quickened heart responding to the love and generosity of the Father’s heart." "Without giving the soul shrivels, but when giving is practiced as a part of Christian living, the soul expands and becomes Godlike in the grace of liberality and generosity." "In order that the plan of giving may be successful there are several things that must be observed. First there must be a willing mind. “If the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not.” “God loveth a cheerful giver.” Secondly, the giving must be done in faith, and there must be no withholding because the offering seems small. Many of the instances of giving that are recorded in the Bible as worthy of special mention, commendation, and blessing are instances where the gift itself was small." "This same truth is set forth beautifully in the New Testament, where it is clearly shown that not the amount of the offering but the spirit in which it is given determines its value and power." "A third requisite for keeping the law of giving and receiving is that the offering shall be a just and fair proportion of all that one receives."
"All ages and all religious dispensations have stressed giving as a vital part of their worship. In this age, when we have so much, more is required of us, even to the giving of ourselves with all that we are and have. This privilege carries immeasurable benefits with it, for it looses us from the personal life, unifies us with the universal, and so opens our inner and outer life to the inflow and the outflow of the life, love, bounty and grace of God. This is the blessed result of faithful obedience to the law and exercise of the grace of giving."
"There are many people who wish to give but seem at a loss as to how to go about it or where to begin. They do not know how much they should give, or when or how often to offer their gifts, and there are a host of related questions. To answer these questions there must be found a definite basis for their giving, a rule to which they can conform. This is where the law of tithing fits beautifully, for it is a basis and a sound one, tested and proved for thousands of years. The tithe may be a tenth part of one’s salary, wage, or allowance, of the net profits of business, or of money received from the sale of goods. It is based on every form of supply, no matter through what channel it may come, for there are many channels through which man is prospered. The tenth should be set apart for the upkeep of some spiritual work or workers. It should be set apart first even before one’s personal expenses are taken out, for in the right relation of things God comes first always. Then everything else follows in divine order and falls into its proper place."
"Let us give as God gives, unreservedly, and with no thought of return, making no mental demands for recompense on those who have received from us. A gift with reservations is not a gift; it is a bribe. There is no promise of increase unless we give freely, let go of the gift entirely, and recognize the universal scope of the law. Then the gift has a chance to go out and to come back multiplied. There is no telling how far the blessing may travel before it comes back, but it is a beautiful and encouraging fact that the longer it is in returning, the more hands it is passing through and the more hearts it is blessing. All these hands and hearts add something to it in substance, and it is increased all the more when it does return."
"We must not try to fix the avenues through which our good is to come. There is no reason for thinking that what you give will come back through the one to whom you gave it. All men are one in Christ and form a universal brotherhood. We must put away any personal claim, such as “I gave to you, now you give to me,” and supplant it with “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.” The law will bring each of us just what is his own, the reaping of the seeds he has sown. The return will come, for it cannot escape the law, though it may quite possibly come through a very different channel from what we expect. Trying to fix the channel through which his good must come to him is one of the ways in which the personal man shuts off his own supply."
"The spiritual-minded man does not make selfish use of the law but gives because he loves to give. Because he gives with no thought of reward and no other motive than love, he is thrown more completely into the inevitable operation of the law and his return is all the more certain. He is inevitably enriched and cannot escape it. Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.” He was not merely making a promise but stating a law that never fails to function."
"Do not plan to lay up for the future; let the future take care of itself. To entertain any fears or doubts on that point saps your strength and depletes your spiritual power. Hold steadily to the thought of the omnipresence of universal supply, its perfect equilibrium and its swift action in filling every apparent vacuum or place of lack. If you have been in the habit of hoarding or of practicing stringent economy change your thought currents to generosity. Practice giving, even though it may be in a small way. Give in a spirit of love and give when you cannot see any possibility of return. Put real substance into your gift by giving the substance of the heart with the token of money or whatever it is. Through the power of your word you can bless and spiritually multiply everything that you give. See yourself as the steward of God handing out His inexhaustible supplies. In this manner you are setting into action mental and spiritual forces that eventually bring large results into visibility. Be happy in your giving. God loves a cheerful giver because his mind and heart are open to the flow of the pure substance of Being that balances all things."
"Do not give with any idea that you are bestowing charity. The idea of charity has infested the race consciousness for thousands of years and is responsible for the great army of human dependents. Do all you can to annul this mental error. There is no such thing as charity as popularly understood. Everything belongs to God and all His children are equally entitled to it. The fact that one has a surplus and gives some of it to another does not make the one a benefactor and the other a dependent. The one with the surplus is simply a steward of God and is merely discharging the work of his stewardship. When one asks for divine wisdom and understanding about giving it becomes a joy both to the giver and the recipient."
According to a very interesting article I found online called, "Why Giving to The Poor is NOT Actually Charity," "We own the things God gives us, but yet they also belong to others." "Man should regard the external things that he legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others.” "Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him, you have killed him." "God does not demand much of you. He asks back what he gave you, and from him you take what is enough for you. The extra possessions of rich persons are the necessities of poor persons. When you possess more than you need, you possess what belongs to others." "When we administer necessaries of any kind to the indigent, we do not bestow our own, but render them what is theirs. We rather pay a debt of justice than accomplish works of mercy.”
Finally, according to the Chabad website's article " Why give Charity Before Prayer" by Yehuda Shurpin, "If a person gives but a small coin to a beggar, he is deemed worthy to receive the Divine Presence, as it is written, ‘I shall behold thy face in tzedek (charity).’ ” Accordingly, says the Talmud, Rabbi Eleazar used to give a coin to a poor man and immediately begin to pray." "We elicit G‑d’s kindness through giving charity and doing act of kindness." "Rabbi Shmuel, the fourth rebbe of Chabad, would elaborate: Prayer must be with life. Through giving charity to a poor person and giving him life, one’s personal prayer is suffused with a great increase of 'aliveness.' " (When saying this, he motioned with his hand in an upwards gesture to indicate that the increase is beyond imagination.)" "Indeed, our sages tell us that “great is charity, for it it brings the redemption,” mirroring the words of Isaiah: “Zion shall be redeemed through justice, and her penitent through righteousness (tzedakah)."
So in summary, after reading all these amazing thoughts about giving charity to the poor, it would appear that giving charity is a very good thing to do as long as one does not dwell on the idea of poverty and misfortune, but rather views the world as a vast reservoir of abundance and infinite supply, and while in a positive state of mind, with loving intentions, one cheerfully gives charity, without expecting anything in return, and without viewing the charity as charity per se, but rather seeing oneself as a steward of G-d (or the universe, or the Divine Spirit) and therefore giving to others what is rightfully theirs without thoughts of pity or judgment. In doing so, the giving of money to the recipient not only benefits the recipient but also benefits the giver immensely. And interestingly enough... I've heard that the brain cannot tell the difference between giving and receiving, so when one gives a gift to another person the brain of the giver actually believes it has received the gift being given. Now that's interesting! So, yes, give charity... but give with love and joy knowing that you are performing a wonderful deed. Charity...or the act of giving is truly divine work!
Jennie H is a Reiki Master Energy Healer, Co-Founder of Self Saviorz Society California Non-Profit 501(c)(3), Poet, Author and Entertainer with goals to help raise the vibration and consciousness of humanity!