When you get approached by a panhandler asking for money, how do you respond?  Are you the person that digs into their pockets, or do you just say no and keep walking?

We've all been there.  You're out on a date, or getting out of work and someone comes up and says they need some money to get on the bus, or to get a meal because they're hungry.

What do you do?

Are you the person that will stop and do what you can to help?  Or are you the person that has grown calloused to their cause?

I was embarrassed last week to find that I'm the latter.

My wife and I don't get to go on dates very often.  We are pretty busy people so when we finally do, they're important.  We chose a restaurant that we normally just get takeout from and decided to go on in and actually sit down to have a meal.

On the way in, I said, "I hope that lady that always begs for money isn't there."  There's a woman who would come right up to our window to beg for money.  She can be very "in your face" and sometimes that can be intimidating for some people.

Over the years I've encountered a lot of people who would ask me for money.  It's become an automatic response to just say no and keep walking.  But why?  Why don't I offer help if I can and someone needs it?

It's easy to just say, "Well, they should get a job!  There are plenty of them these days!"  That's fair.  There are a lot of jobs.  I've said it. But how are they supposed to get a call back from someone if they don't have a phone?  How do they prove who they are if they don't have a driver's license or an ID?  These are all things that we take for granted.

Sure enough, we sat down, and before our meal was even ready that woman came right into the restaurant.  And like a magnet, she came right to our table.  She asked, "Can you give me some money so that I can get some food?"  Immediately I waved her off and said, "No...I'm sorry."  And my wife immediately got up and offered to buy her something to put in her stomach.

I felt terrible.  It really has been bugging me.

We go to church.  We talk about these situations all the time.  So why wouldn't I help someone who needs it if I can?  Obviously, I don't do the right thing all the time.  It's hard to be a good person sometimes.  Especially when you've been conditioned to worry only about yourself.  It became obvious at that moment how sad it is that we've become a culture where so many of us care so little about other humans the way we should.

Not to get all religious or anything but I couldn't help but think...if that was God testing me...I failed.  It wouldn't be the first time.  But hopefully it's the last.

So how do you respond to someone in need?

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