Beggars CAN be choosers
So often when you hear people talking about charity and giving to the poor, you hear the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’. It’s this idea that because someone has nothing, they should just accept whatever they are given and they have no right to say whether or not they actually want it.
People use this as an excuse to give rubbish – things that are poor quality or that they just do not want anymore – because they think that someone who has nothing should just be grateful for anything. Anything is better than nothing, right? But do you know what is better than ‘anything’? The best thing. And that is what we at the Besom in York want to give: the best.
At Christmas time, we remember Jesus – His birth and significance of His coming. He was (and is) the best possible gift we could receive. During Advent, we are flooded with hampers at the Besom and we love it! We love seeing boxes bursting with treats, gifts and presents – things that we’d love to receive ourselves. And even more than that, we love hearing the stories of givers’ enjoyment at the act of giving!
The main reason we believe in giving the best, has EVERYTHING to do with the GIVER, rather than just something to do with the receiver. When we Christians give the best, we reflect God’s (the Giver of all good things) gift to us! The Besom exists for the giver; to see the heart of the giver transformed through the act of giving to someone in need.
Those who receive might be a family escaping domestic violence with just a few bags of clothes or those who are stuck in cycles of poverty, having only owned rubbish things or nothing at all. Undoubtedly they benefit hugely from receiving the best. They receive dignity, value and love. They are blessed and are shown God’s love.
When we say that beggars can be choosers, we offer a choice where previously there was no choice. There is the choice for the giver – to ask God “what should I give?” and there is a choice for the receiver – “what would I love to receive?”
So this is why when we’re offered a sofa that “will be alright with a throw on it” we’ll say no or a bed that will be “alright for a homeless person” we’ll politely decline.
We don’t just care about the object that is being given, but also the motivation behind it. We realise that in doing this we are asking givers to re-consider how they view people who are in need and what things that they themselves would want to receive.
A lot of the people we meet have next to nothing; some have nothing at all. Many of them are coming out of difficult periods of their lives. We want to change that. We want to give people the good quality things that they deserve, because we believe that they DO deserve them. We want to bless people with gifts.
When we say and then act on the fact that beggars can be choosers, we have to be prepared for those who receive to say no to our gift. It is not just about giving the best.
This was illustrated to us recently. We were offered a really nice three-piece suite. It was one we’d seen and knew was great quality. In fact one of the van givers came back after delivering it saying he loved that we gave out the best and would have loved it in his lounge. We thought the receivers would love it too. But a week later they asked us to collect it and take it away to give someone else. At first we couldn’t understand why, but we now recognise it as them exercising the choice we so wish them to have.
We believe that everyone deserves the best and that beggars CAN be choosers.
The Besom in York core team