I HAVE OFTEN come across individuals who come up to me and tell me they have not eaten or drunk anything for the day and hope that I will be kind enough to spare them some cash. It is also common for individuals to want to borrow my mobile phone to make an emergency call.
In the first case, I will help by giving them some cash; in the second, I will give them coins instead of lending them my mobile phone. I will politely decline those individuals who are young and able-bodied on the assumption that they might be using the cash to pay for their drugs or alcohol.
However, I'm always pricked by a guilty conscience whenever I decline someone in need. Is it against our Christian beliefs to exercise prudence when giving alms? Or should we just give alms to every individual who comes up to us and begs for money or requests the use of our mobile phone?