Is giving to a beggar helpful or harmful?

A beggar approached us halfway through our meal, we didn’t give him money. Is that right?


Husband and I were chatting and eating when a beggar suddenly approached us. The beggar was going from tables to tables asking for money in his plastic cup. I looked up at him, saw the deep, wrinkle lines on his face, unshaven beard, straggly hair, his crinkled shirt wet from the rain, and my gaze shifted to the plastic cup he’s holding. The plastic cup had a few dollar notes in it.

My mind raced as usual when faced with this common scenario of beggars approaching diners—are these people from a syndicate? Will I be making things worse by giving as it will make the syndicate even bolder in their schemes? What if this beggar is genuinely hungry? What if the beggar gets beaten up for going back to the syndicate empty handed? Just give him some money, don’t care if it’s a syndicate, have compassion! But, what if I’m feeding into a syndicate and it made things worse in the long run?

Pained, confused, I looked down to my meal, softly shook my head to tell him, ‘no’. The beggar slowly walks away and approaches the next table. Most people duck their head down, avoiding eye-contact with him. My heart was torn even more. What do I do? What do I do? How could I not do anything?! All the while, Jesus’ Words in the Bible about helping the poor, rings in my head.

I regretted my decision.


I remembered the time when I was in London, and I saw a homeless guy from my double-decker bus. He was holding a sign—’Homeless. Ex-army. Please help’. And I felt I just have to go and help him.

When the bus stopped, I dragged my husband, and we walked up and down different streets to look for the homeless guy. When we found him, we knelt down to where he was seated and chatted with him, eye-level.

Found out he was three months away to be qualified for ‘dole’ money, and he had no choice but to sleep on the street till then.

He said he’s clean—doesn’t do drugs nor alcohol. He used to work with an insurance company after he served in the army.

I can’t understand how he didn’t have a job and became homeless. We gave him some money and pointed out that from where he was sitting—Hillsong Church is just 5 minutes walk away from Dominion Theatre (on weekends), and to seek help there.

Till now, I still can remember ‘John’, that’s the name he told us. I hope he has found a job, a shelter, and getting back on track in life.


Why the inconsistency in my response to the beggar who came to our dining table? I figured out that my respond to him wasn’t so much a lack of compassion, but it’s the lack of education and awareness on a subject totally alien to me (perhaps to a lot of people in the city too?)—homeless and beggars.

So, I asked around people who are involved with helping the beggars and homeless, of course, I asked Google too. It turns out there is no unified answer to the question of ‘is giving to beggars actually helpful?’

Is giving to beggars actually helpful?

Here’s what I found. I suggest reading through all the articles to see this topic from different points of view.

Some said yes

Help Even the Unrighteous Poor (Pr Joel Brooks)

How should a Christian respond to beggars? 

Some said no

Why giving to those who beg does more harm than good (Thames Reach)

Should we give money to beggars? (Cherry Wilson, BBC News)

Some said to do it differently

Should I give money to beggars? (Michael Cauchi,Compassion.com)

When Charity is just a Band-Aid (Craig Greenfield)

Bible verses about poverty and justice

10 Bible verses about poverty and justice


Hope you’ve had given the above articles a good read.

Final thoughts to ponder upon this complicated but common situation:

Scenario 1:
Give to a beggar. (Unknown whether he/she has a drug or alcohol problem)

The beggar used the money for his/her next fix, and he/she is ok for awhile. It’s wrong, yes. But, who are we to judge how they ended their lives like this?

The cycle of addiction continues.

But, he/she still has a chance to turn around if help comes in the form of an organisation getting them off the street and into rehabilitation.

Or Scenario 2:
Don’t give to a beggar. (Unknown whether he/she has a drug or alcohol problem)

The drug/alcohol craving got him/her so desperate that they resort to doing anything to get the money for their fix—this may result in, someone or them getting harmed or even killed.

No chance for him/her to turn around.

Or how about Scenario 3:
Give to a beggar who hasn’t eaten in two days. And that may be the meal that gave him/her the strength to go on for another day.


What can we do to show love to a fellow human being in need?I will leave you to make your decision. To give to legit organisations? To give your spare change anyway? To access the situation on a case by case basis (it doesn’t have to be about giving money, it can be to buy them a meal).

Most importantly, hear the small voice in your heart to lead you to do the right thing.

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