After my parents had divorced—I guess I was around eleven years old—my mom and I lived in a car for a while. The little money we had left from her last paycheck had dwindled down to twelve cents.
One day we hadn’t eaten by suppertime, and we couldn’t afford to buy anything. So, my mom went to the back door of a restaurant and asked for some food. She came back with half a loaf of bread and a mostly full jar of peanut butter.
When spiritual beggars give, they give from the overflow. God’s grace and tender mercy spills out from them because they do not seek to retain for themselves what has been freely given to them.
Outreach programs frequently function on a benefactor-recipient model. Some congregations send checks, and such generosity is good. But giving money can also keep us at a distance from the recipient.
Mission trips to impoverished locations bring us face to face with others. And yet, we can build homes or offer medical aid or run a Vacation Bible School for a short period without forming an equal, reciprocal partnership to engage God’s mission.
We can drive to another part of town to feed or clothe or even shelter strangers without genuinely making them our neighbor and joining them as partners in God’s mission.
Benefactors keep a distance.
Spiritual beggars meet neighbors and form partnerships.