Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)
There's a family in town that our church has been helping for years. They always seem to get hit with a crisis, illness, or injury that makes it difficult for them to keep up with house payments, utility bills, and paying for groceries. Every time they move one step ahead, something happens to put them two steps back, which in turn makes them dependent upon charity.
I've tried to get them to understand how important it is to be a part of a church. They live on the other side of the city and need to get involved in the fellowship of a local church. Each time I try to convey this to them, they put up barriers of being too busy, or they can't manage transport, or they don't know where to go. I've visited them at their house several times, delivering special food baskets and other needed items. I pass several churches that are very close to their home. I just wish that they would see how much their lives could positively change if they had a real connection to a neighbourhood church.
Recently, the church paid $100 towards their utility bill, but it will probably be the last time that we do this. There are many other families in our own area of Knoxville who are in need, so we have to concentrate on them. I also think that through the gifts and hundreds of dollars that we have given to this one family, we have actually made them co-dependent. Instead of helping their situation, we've actually enabled them to depend upon our support. It's sad to see this, and it's hard to let go of people in such circumstances, but unless they seek their own local church fellowship, I cannot see how our church can sustain them much longer.
Doing good for others makes us all feel good, but knowing when to stop helping others is very hard to do. Paul encourages us to help others, especially those who belong to the family of believers. Sometimes, because we help those who are outside of the church and who live far away, we don't see those in need from our own congregation and neighbourhood. It's far easier to give with no strings attached and walk away feeling good. It's much harder to deal with those whom we know because we will have to get involved in their lives, and invest time, resources, and energy to help them.
I guess the challenge for us today is this: who is it in our families, among our friends, or at our church who currently needs our help? And what is God calling us to do for them?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You never said that having faith and doing good works would ever be easy. In fact, You called it "carrying our crosses". You know how much it will cost us to really help others in our midst, especially those at our church. Grant us patience and perseverance. Give us a loving faith to truly convey Christian compassion and fellowship to those whom we know who have great needs at this time. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.