All of us have wondered at times whether or not we should give money or other assistance to people who request it. The following article shows how its not always a clear cut choice and provides some guidance in discerning when and how we should help.
The lines of outreach are at times unclear as each person and circumstance is unique. For that reason, several loving Christians, with an earnest desire to serve, have sought my opinion on discerning between helping a loved one and hindering them by enabling a root problem. This crucial question encouraged me to seek the advice of my fellow outreach specialists in United States Ministries. Rich Cohrs, Manager of District and Congregational Relations, provided valuable insight.
"Would I help a family member who is facing a money crisis? The answer is 'Yes. I have and will continue to.' On the other hand, the answer is also 'No. I refuse and will continue to.' Let me explain.
"I have had children come to me and ask for money because of circumstances. I freely and gladly helped them with no promise or expectation of payback. I made a judgment call and decided I could afford it, and it would be beneficial to their well being, etc.
"I also have had the same children ask for money and I said no -- usually because I could not afford it or I knew the money would not help them stand on their own feet. In other words, I was allowing them to remain an independent child. Yes, it was a judgment call I made, but I made it.
"Now, as to motive, I try to follow my heavenly Father's lead. He gives me more than I need every day without judging the gift or my use of it. He gives me money if I tithe or not. He gives me daily food if I charge it on Visa or pay cash. He provides all I need and then some -- regardless of how I might squander His gifts. Hence, I will always try to help my children in the same way my Father provides for me -- freely and without judgment. When I do not give, it is not because I know they will squander the money; it is because they need to grow more self-sufficient.
"I hope to always err on the side of generosity -- to my family, my friends, my church, my neighbors -- even toward strangers. If I have it and they need it, chances are they will get it.
"Am I a doormat? On occasion. Is that wrong? I don't always see it as wrong.
"I have been surprised more than once by the generosity of a family member, friend, neighbor, or stranger, who helped me when I needed help. If I was keeping track, I'd venture a guess and say I have received far more than what I've given away.
"So, will I continue to give? Probably, but that is not a bad thing."
Equipping to Share Newsletter, July 1st, 2009