In these difficult financial times I think the following guidance from the Bible is the kind of compassion we need to see more of.

Deuteronomy 15: 7-8 (King James Version)

“7- If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8- but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.”

Both my heart and my brain tell me that eliminating poverty should be our highest priority.  Yet I still don’t do enough to help the poor I see everyday.  I do work about four hours a week at a local shelter.  However I am retired and there is no reason I couldn’t work their full time.  I do give 10% of my income to charity, but I still have money left over to buy CDs, smoke salmon, and gourmet tea.

I don’t have a family to support.  I own my own condo, and receive a guaranteed income and health insurance.  I can’t see any good reason why I don’t give any excess income to the homeless, instead of putting in the bank, but I still don’t.  I can’t avoid the knowledge that I am a hypocrite to say my country doesn’t do enough for the poor, when I don’t myself.

I have spent a lot of time in New York where many of the people begging for money make more than I do.  I know this has hardened me.  I will also admit that when I was younger I sometimes even felt disgust at people who I felt were too lazy to look for work.  Having been laid-off, and looking at economic hardship myself, I have learned it can happen to anyone.

America is the land of conspicuous consumption, and the homeless in every city.  All the statistics I read say over 80% of Americans believe in God.  That is an easy thing to say.  Looking at all our homeless I know a lot less that 80% live by the words of Deuteronomy 15: 7-8.

I have asked this question before.  How do you know that what you are doing to help your neighbor is enough, or at least adequate?