My thoughts are not about whether the stories are true or not. I don't know the motivation, but I'm usually guessing it's a "scam" (though I hate that word). It's where my heart goes that bothers me... and I believe God continues to allow these encounters to lovingly draw out my own pride and sense of entitlement. I usually give money, but I leave sickened at how much better I seem to think I am. I think way too highly of myself. I'm no better or different. I've been given much. So much. And I want to give with a pure heart of selflessness without needing any assurance that anything I give will be used for good. Why should that matter to me? Who am I that anyone has to prove their motive to me? Ouch.
Here's where I landed as I prayed through this encounter:
Truthfully, I know I've been given everything from God: from THE gift of my salvation to all "our" money and possessions. And I know me. I know I didn't deserve any of it. Jesus would not be fooled by a "Saint Ginny" act, He knows me. He knows my heart and always has. Even of the good I have done, His Word says all my righteous deeds are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). AND YET- He gave. He gave His life to pay for my sin. And then He beat death and rose again and gave me His righteous standing with God. He loves me knowing my sin and He gives generously to me always(Romans 3:23-26). What if my encounter with "parking lot beggars" is to share with them that they too can have that generous a love give to them? What if I get these encounters so when I give them the money they asked for I can tell them how Jesus knew me, loved me anyway, and gave to me and Jesus knows them, loves them anyway, and is the only way to meet their real need?
Begging isn't a new thing. As a family, we love to give when we see genuine needs. And now we're learning to give even when we're pretty sure it isn't genuine. But not just give cash and walk away quickly and awkwardly with our heads down. We want to give intentionally and purposefully, because in that giving is a chance to share Jesus. Thankful for God teaching me through this and praying I will live this out to His glory alone.