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HOW DO WE DECIDE?

Growing up in Chicago, panhandlers would often come out to clean your windshield at a stoplight or sell you a bag of peanuts or a pack of socks. They were very active and creative in convincing you to give...but how do we decide?

 

My grandparents traveled by train during my childhood and would often have a layover at Union Station. My mom would prepare a meal for us to take down to eat with my grandparents. Of course there were leftovers and my mom would give them to panhandlers outside Union Station. One particular time my mom gave a panhandler the leftovers and a couple dollars. As we continue walking to the car, I looked back and the gentleman put the leftovers in the trashcan and kept walking...now how do we decide?

 

I have spent my entire adulthood in Texas where panhandlers hold signs on the side of the road. I had the desire to give but based on my childhood experiences I wondered what the money would be used for. “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” (Prov. 11:24). Wonderings can turn to giving begrudgingly. 

 

How do we decide? We don’t! God has already decided. It is our solemn duty to kindly consider the poor. “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”  (Proverbs 14:31 ESV)

 

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VANITY?

I never considered myself as a vain person. I often tied vanity to worrying about looks and appearance. “I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” (Psa119:113 KJV) This verse got me to thinking: what’s a vain thought? Thomas Goodwin made a few clarifying points on BibleStudyTools.com:  Let us see what vanity is. Take it in all the acceptances of it, it is true of our thoughts that they are "vain."

 1.  It is taken for unprofitableness. So,  Ecclesiastes 1:2-3, "All is vain," because there is "no profit in them under the sun." Such are our thoughts by nature; the wisest of them will not stand us in any stead in time of need, in time of temptation, distress of conscience, day of death or judgment:  1 Corinthians 2:6 , "All the wisdom of the wise comes to nought";  Proverbs 10:20 . "The heart of the wicked is little worth," not a penny for them all. 

2.  Vanity is taken for lightness. "Lighter than vanity," is a phrase used, Ps 62:9; and whom is it spoken of? Of men; and if anything in them be lighter than other, it is their thoughts, which swim in the uppermost parts, float at the top, are as the scum of the heart. When all the best, and wisest, and deepest, and solidest thoughts in Belshazzar, a prince, were weighed, they were found too light,  Daniel 5:27

3.  Vanity is put for folly. So,  Proverbs 12:11, "vain men" is made all one with men "void of understanding." Such are our thoughts. Among other evils which are said to "come out of the heart" ( Mark 7:22 ), "foolishness"; that is, thoughts that are such as madmen have, and fools -- nothing to the purpose, of which there can be made no use. 

4.  Vanity is put for inconstancy and frailty; therefore vanity and a shadow are made synonymous,  Psalms 144:4. Such are our thoughts, flitting and perishing, as bubbles:  Psalms 144:4 , "All their thoughts perish." 

5.  Lastly, they are wicked and sinful. Vanity is  Jeremiah 4:14 yoked with wickedness, and vain men and sons of Belial are all one,  2 Chronicles 8:7 . And such are our thoughts by nature:  Proverbs 14:9 , "The thought of foolishness is sin." And therefore a man is to be humbled for a proud thought.

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