Our church receives an offering at Christmas that is set aside for those in need. Throughout the year, when requests come for assistance we have funds available. Often, I find that it is hard to determine how and whom to help! I see many of the same people again and again, coming to ask for payment of utility bills and rent. Some are simply unable to generate income due to some kind of disability. Others are in the grip of addictions. Some are unmotivated, having lost hope and/or desire to be productive for reasons unknown. Some have just run into circumstances – job loss, poor health – over which they have little control. I find myself praying, “Lord, grant me Your wisdom to know how best to help this individual.”
It is always my desire to be liberal in attitude, to generously extend a hand as an expression of the love of Christ. An easier choice would be to judge those who ask, to separate myself from ‘them’ determining they are somehow unworthy. It’s an attitude that is all too common among the blessed and beautiful! There is an attractive lie that we want to believe that says, “I am better than you, more deserving, and thus need not share my life with you. If you’re need, it must be the result of your own failures.” That does not reflect the generosity of Jesus!
One day when Jesus and His disciples came upon a blind man, the men asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2, NKJV) The common assumption was (and still is!) that since he was suffering, he or someone must be responsible. Jesus reply shocked them. “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.” (John 9:3-4, The Message) The man’s blindness was an opportunity for ministry that revealed the love of God!
Our lives are changed, inside out, when we stop judging and blaming those who are suffering, who are sinning, failing, or falling, and instead adopt the liberal attitude born of thinking: “Your situation provides the opportunity to show the love of God!” I am not making a case for just throwing more money at problems, or failing to hold others accountable for change. That is not love, nor is it liberality. It is just dumb. But, we must, like our Great Example, come down from on high to stand alongside of those who are broken, bruised, and beaten by life. We when liberally love, we have gained the credibility to say, when necessary, “now, let’s work together on making a lasting change.”
Here’s a word from the Word. What does He say to you in it?
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:36-37, NLT)