Thursday, December 6, 2007

helping the poor

I've recently been confronted with a couple of situations that, frankly, are making me sick to my stomach.

For several months last year I was really poor. I sold stuff to make rent. I borrowed money from friends. I spent less than $15 a month on food and still didn't have enough money to make it to work. I borrowed $5 from my supervisor at UPS several times so that I could make the drive home at 4 in the morning. I went several days without food on occasion. I went without insurance for my truck (what? could I?...because that was the least of my worries). I filed for extensions on my student loans. I had to give up on attending Butler again because I didn't have the funds to pay for it. I lost over 30 lbs during that time (some of that was probably working for UPS but most of it was stress and not having food.)

Now, I have some money. Not a lot, but some. I have money in the bank so when something happens (like my battery dying in my truck or getting a flat tire) I can pay for it without having to borrow money. It is nice to have God provide.

When I was without the means to pay for stuff, it was one of the most humbling experiences to have to ask for money and to ask for extensions from friends on paying them back. Thankfully, most of those people were gracious to me. They didn't ask a lot of questions because they knew it hurt me to talk about what was going on.

To me, especially after having gone through that time, the thought of giving to others is not even a consideration. If I have funds, I give them when I am asked. I don't ask a lot of questions, I just do what I can. And, I will give until I am broke again. If it means that I don't get to eat at my new local sandwich shop...then so be it. If it means that I can't go see friends in Indy for a month, too bad. I will give when I see a need. (Now, don't get all stopped up on the fact that I have only been talking about giving financially...I know there are lots more ways to give to those in need.)

The sickening part comes when I see others who are Christians who think that there are people who aren't worthy to receive their help. Lots of reasons are given: "I've helped them before" "They will just waste it" "We are struggling right now, too (still having cable, internet, cell phones, lots to eat, several vehicles)."

I think every reason that is given to the question "Will you help me?" is bogus, save one. If you are actually unable to help. If, in fact, you have nothing to give. Then, and only then, should you say "I'd love to help, but I can't." To me, that's the only reason. That's it.

In all these circumstances, do you think you have given a good view of Christ by not giving? How can you expect someone to know how gracious God is (who saved you and I when we were covered in filth and had nothing) when you will not humble yourself to not eat for a day so someone can fill up their tank with gas? Do you think they will "see your good deeds, and glorify your Father in heaven"? I doubt it.

But, what if...even after you've seen the same person time after time, who has squandered your help...what if you give that one last time, that time that nearly breaks the bank, and God opens that person's heart to the glorious Gospel? Won't that make it worth it? And what if they don't ever come to know Christ? Count it joy to suffer for the sake of Him who suffered for you.

So, without revealing details, I think you know what those two situations are about. It makes me sick.

So, don't talk to me about whether you should give...cause I'll likely get really angry at you and might even throw-up on your precious new sweater.



IndyChristian said...

Good stuff, Joe!

We're featuring it today from

Carter said...

amen, brother. we agree on something. :)