Are We Not All Beggars?
This morning on my way to work I stopped at a Subway sandwich shop to get some breakfast. I pulled into a parking spot and saw a probably-homeless guy sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against the wall of the building. He had a several-day stubbly beard, and while his clothes were well worn, they were in as good condition as they could be for a guy who most likely lives on the streets. He didn’t look greasy or oily as terminal homeless people seem to look after a lifetime of living in grimy conditions.
I got out of the car, made eye contact and said, “Good morning,” to him, which he returned.
As I ordered my sandwich I considered getting him something too, but only had enough cash for one. I knew I would have some change left though. Sure enough, when I came out to get in my car, he very politely said, “Excuse me, ma’am. Would you have any spare change I could have?”
I reached into my pocket, pulled out the remaining $1.48 and handed it to him. “Sure.”
“Ah, thanks. And a happy Friday to you!”
“You too!” keeping eye contact.
“God bless you,” he said, gratefully.
“You too,” I said, sincerely, sensing on some level that this lowly soul, at least as viewed by society, is in not unknown by God, and is every much His child as I am.
As I drove away, the words, “Are we not all beggars?” came very distinctly into my mind, and I thought of King Benjamin’s gentle admonishment, defusing any critic who would think it’s hopeless and useless to give money to beggars. “And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish. For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?” (Mosiah 4:16, 19)
It was an easy mental switch to imagine it was me on the sidewalk on an early winter morning, huddled for warmth in a worn and shabby coat, inventorying my meager possessions. And while I do have a warm coat, comfortable car, and can afford a breakfast sandwich on my way to work, it doesn’t lessen the need I have to beg for my needs to my Heavenly Father. Sometimes I do so timidly, wondering if I have any right to ask for things when I do have all the creature comforts of life.
“And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy…” (Mosiah 4:20)
Are we not all beggars?
“Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case? Little wonder that King Benjamin says we obtain a remission of our sins by pleading to God, who compassionately responds, but we retain a remission of our sins by compassionately responding to the poor who plead to us.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Are We Not All Beggars?” October 2014.)