A question that was posed to Romanian Elder Justin Parvu, with his answer:
—I once heard from a priest that it is a sin to give alms to those like yourself, who are fully able to work, but who have become accustomed to begging and no longer think of any other life for themselves. Children grow up with them and are forced to beg from childhood, and then they’re busy with this “work” their whole lives, having learned it from their own people. What do you think about that? Is it a sin to encourage idleness?
—As one of the fathers said, “My dear, if you consider someone good, then you will find him good, and if you consider him bad, then you will find him bad.” The same father cites a case from the Patericon, when a rich man gave a poor man his coat, and the poor man took and sold this coat, and drank the money. Then the rich man hesitated: “What? I gave him my coat to wear, but he sold it and went drinking!” and he was displeased. That night the Lord Christ appeared to him in a dream, wearing the coat he had given to the poor man, and asked the benefactor: “Do you recognize these clothes?” And he replied: “Yes, Lord, I recognize them; it’s my coat!” To which the Lord Christ said: “Do not be grieved. I wear it.”
And there is an example to the contrary. It will be greater help to a poor man if you teach him how to fish, so he would have the chance to feed himself for the rest of his life, than to let him eat his fill of fish one time, and then put him back on the street.