I recently visited Las Vegas and its Strip for the first time, which looks like Disney World if it had been designed by Caligula. There begging is an art form, and I remember in particular one young man, fashionably petulant, with a sign that read "Too good looking to be homeless", and people were giving him money.
The hopeful light in her eyes dims when she hears my reply: "We do all of our direct charitable assistance through two local agencies. One is twenty-five miles away but the other is not even two miles down the street. However, I have no idea whether they are still open on Christmas Eve at this hour. I will be glad to give you directions."
The last thing the Professional Poor want to do is deal with a charity agency. Agencies know every scam out there and even know the names of the Professional Poor who do them. Agency workers view the Professional Poor with all the compassion of a Swiss banker.
Clara knows she's not making the sale. She makes a final, desperate push: "Oh, we don't have enough gas to make it that far." (So you intend to drive to Wisconsin how?)
I say nothing because there is nothing to say. Without a word she suddenly bags her props and walks out the door. Like any astute business woman, she knows when to cut her losses. On to the next client.Like the Rev Sensing in Tennessee, we have a similar agency clearinghouse here locally and I have seen it work. Once such a charlatan is detected, the word is spread throughout the church community and they are fended off when they show up at their next attempt. I saw my minister inform one such fellow that he knew of his previous try, and that was the last that we, or the community, saw of him.
The observation of Christ in Matthew 25:40 concerning the "least of these" does not have you resting on the effort of the Combined Federal Campaign. It should not be conflated with "render unto Caesar".