Sunday, August 8, 2021

Angels in Disguise?

I go out of my way to minister to beggars. With rare exceptions, I have a policy not to give them money. Instead, I offer snacks to the hungry. While many have legitimate needs, professional panhandlers will use deceptive tactics to extract cash from undiscerning donors.

One night while evangelizing in south Minneapolis with Living Word Christian Center, a man with a gas can came up to us asking for money. He claimed his car got stalled on the freeway a short distance away. Evangelism Pastor Nick Kinn was with me and offered to fill up this man’s can if he followed us to a nearby gas station. He hesitated and then claimed the gas wouldn’t be enough to get him home. This beggar wasn’t honest with us.

A few friends of mine freely give to panhandlers because Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” In Genesis 18, Abraham offered hospitality to three men passing by. Two of them were angels. These same beings later stayed with Lot and his family in Sodom. Notice the angels were invited and didn’t insist on being served.

I’ve had bizarre incidents with scraggly beggars claiming to be angels. Don’t forget the devil can transform himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) who comes to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10). That would include a believer’s finances. On the other hand, God uses angels to bring provision to the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). One angel brought food to Elijah in the desert (1 Kings 19:5-8). 

Once I visited a church to hear Jerry Savelle minister there. Near the end of the service, a man sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “The Lord told me to give you this.“ It was a $100 bill! It was the first time a total stranger gave me money. This incident has frequently come up in my mind whenever I hear somebody talk about angels. For that reason, I believe the person who gave me the $100 was an angel. 

During a recent evangelism outing in downtown Minneapolis, a man came up to my team saying he had just finished working as a window washer and needed $16 to get his car out of a parking garage. A woman with me handed him the remaining dollar in her purse. I thought of offering to walk with him to the garage and use my debit card to help get his car out, but we were waiting for another team that was running late. We ended up praying for this man before he continued down the street. The possibility of him being an angel crossed my mind. Later, it occurred to me angels can fly and translate from one place to another. They don’t need money for transportation expenses.

We should be willing to help those in need but not give out of manipulation or just in case they might be a divine messenger. I doubt God would have angels disguised as drunken homeless people who use profanity or solicit funds in areas where it is illegal to do so. Use wisdom, folks!

Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” - 1 Corinthians 6:3

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