The Deserving Poor?

As I continue to plug away at my doctoral project, I came across an interesting article in a 2005 issue of Christianity Today. They write:

"As Americans set new records for charitable
giving in response to Hurricane Katrina, some fundraisers are seeing a
principle confirmed: when the suffers are perceived as innocent
victims, donors respond generously.

"On the other
hand, giving patterns suggest donors are losing patience with chronic
problems such as poverty, in which suffering is arguably exacerbated by
questionable choices. Private donations are shrinking for homeless
shelters, AIDS-related services and programs for troubled youth, to
cite just a few examples."

They go on to cite evidence of increased help to the "deserving poor," and declining support to the "undeserving poor."

Do you think Christians should make a distinction?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “The Deserving Poor?

  1. In general…no, I don’t think Christians should make distinctions…except in cases in which they are enabling destructive behavior (i.e., giving someone drug money), or enabling a way of life counter to the way of Jesus. When it comes to basic needs, however, the bar is set pretty low…if not on the ground.

  2. Wow – what a question. I think it may be that we subconsciously make a distinction between the two. The “undeserving poor” tug at our heart strings probably because we feel more in common with them. I don’t know that it’s right, but I think it may be reality.
    I don’t recall Jesus making any such distinction.
    So, what are your thoughts, Tim?

  3. ‘Lost One’ is great. ‘Show Me What you Got’ is a great video. Looking forward to owning the cd. By the way, I do not believe in the “undeserving poor”, in my mind there is no such thing. We must give from our heart whether we think they deserve or not. Jim Kirk shared that with me one time and I firmly believe it. Love your new blog!!!

  4. Okay Spivey I am sooo impressed you listen to Jay Z, I have asked for his cleaned up version Kingdom Come for Christmas. Jay Z rocks it!!

  5. Yes, Christians are to be good stewards of God’s money. We must do our homework and give wisely. Gift’s to the Church is one way to give knowing that the Elders do the work for us. I believe in the work of the Salvation Army. Most of the given dollar goes to those that have real needs. But what I don’t like to hear is using the “undeserving poor” as an excuse not to give at all. Giving wisely requires some work on our part.