There were a dozen reasons to say no. The family asking for help with their bill was well-known around town. They didn’t make wise use of money, often asked for handouts, and were generally looked upon with suspicion. People didn’t trust them, and for good reason. Besides, it’s not good to enable people, right? Let them learn from the consequences of their actions. You don’t want to risk them coming back to you again and again. It’s best not to get involved at all.
Have you ever been in this type of uncomfortable position before, when someone asks you for money or help, and you have good reason to suspect they won’t use it appropriately? Perhaps you’ve given assistance before, only to see your gift squandered. When it comes to giving, this is a tricky area. Sure, we’ll give to friends who are struggling with underemployment. It’s easy to take a meal to a new mom or a family dealing with the death of a loved one. People in general love to support benefit dinners and auctions, willingly paying far more than the meal or items are worth to help pay off medical expenses. We’ll rally behind a good cause or good friends, but that lady in town who’s always asking for help? Eh, not so much.
True, there are people who abuse the generosity of others. There are those who sit on street corners to ask for money only to go spend it on alcohol. Some people just don’t know how to manage their finances and are always scrambling to scrape together enough for rent at the end of the month. What about people with that sort of reputation? Like I said, there are a dozen reasons to say no in these circumstances.
The timing of this family’s visit could hardly be a coincidence. I’ve been working through a Bible study by Sharla Fritz called Enough for Now: Unpacking God’s Sufficiency. It’s a fabulous Bible study; one of the best I’ve done. And the chapter I was working through that week was “Enough Money.” The verse of the week was Luke 12:33-34, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I’d done a verse mapping—an in-depth study—of those verses just a day or two before. It’s pretty hard to ignore or explain away God’s clear command to “sell your possessions and give to the needy,” especially when God sends just such a person right to my front door.
Okay, God. Point taken.
The thing is, had you asked me before reading that chapter whether or not I had a problem with money, I would have said no. I don’t consider money to be an idol in my life, and for crying out loud, we’re solidly middle class. It’s not like we’re out there buying mansions and yachts. And we faithfully tithe and give money to charities and organizations we support. But reading the chapter opened my eyes to the fact that I do have a problem with greed. I struggle with my attitude toward money because I find security in it, rather than in the God of sufficiency. The more we have in our bank account, the more secure I believe us to be. But if I’m being completely honest, we could afford to live on a whole lot less than we do now.
I’m not going to lie to you. It wasn’t an easy decision about whether or not to help this family. We debated the pros and cons. Yes, we could easily absorb the cost with no ill effects, but the family’s reputation bothered us a lot. We didn’t want to be taken advantage of, plain and simple. Sometimes it’s easier not to know the people asking for help. Support Hurricane Dorian victims? Sure! Sign me up! But please don’t get too personal. I almost don’t want to know how my money is being spent, especially if it’s not used wisely. Let my conscience rest easy knowing I’m helping without getting too close or too involved.
I encourage you to examine your own attitude about money. Do you place more importance upon it than you should? Are you wrongly placing your security in it rather than in God? Are you being a good steward of the money God has entrusted to you? I’m not suggesting we all go out and give money to people who will misuse it. But prayerfully consider where God might be nudging you to loosen your grip on your own finances and use them instead to further His kingdom.
2 Corinthians 8:9 reminds us, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Live with this eternal perspective, that in Christ, you are already rich beyond measure. Don’t let money get in the way of true riches. Remember, in Christ, you have more than enough.