Beer for the Perishing

Last night at Skyline Jeff Brown and some of our College and Career Ministry students shared with the congregation their experience on “The Poverty Plunge” they took last weekend in Memphis.

They told their experiences of panhandling, seaching dumpsters for cans and going hungry and without their usual comforts. I appreciated the discussion and their putting themselves into the ill-fitting shoes of the homeless.

One of the questions that came up for discussion among the panel last night involved the mixed feelings we sometimes have when we give money to a homeless person. We want to be generous, but what if the homeless person uses the money to buy beer?

Many of us have asked ourselves the same question, I’m sure. A couple of years ago I was spending some time in The Proverbs when I read a passage of scripture that just jumped off the page at me. It was in a chapter where I was just reading along anticipating the “worthy woman” scriptures. And there it was.

I read the words and stopped. “Wait a minute, I must have misread that passage, let me read it again.” A second reading only verified my initial reading and intensified my shock. I could not understand how I had overlooked these verses in my previous readings of The Proverbs.

So here are the verses, but first you will probably want to have your Bible handy, because you are going to want to check it out to make sure I haven’t gotten something wrong. You might want to read the verses preceding and following. You may want to read it in several translations (trust me, I even pulled out my old KJV!).

Proverbs 31:6-7
“Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”

I hope when I give money to a homeless person that they use it wisely — buying food, perhaps even investing in a good mutual fund. But chances are, they may just go buy a beer. And after reading these verses, maybe that’s not the worst thing that can happen.

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