Visits with requests for assistance were a common occurrence. And no wonder. Our driveway joined the church's parking lot, making our identity a dead giveaway.
One petition stands out. My wife and I were sitting under our carport when we heard, "Hey, is anyone home?" I thought it a little strange, but we answered back. Two young adult ladies sauntered up carrying their prepared-beforehand story. I listened carefully, informed them about our policies, and sent them on their way. Upon investigation, their story didn't appear legitimate. We declined their request, and were soon glad we did. A few weeks later, I was purchasing gas at one of our local convenience stores, when who should I see but this same young lady purchasing lottery tickets. We could have helped, but it wouldn't have been wise.
The Bible challenges us to help, but warns about the methods:
Proverbs 6:1-3 – My child, if you have … agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger … follow my advice and save yourself … go and beg to have your name erased. (NLT)
While we shouldn't discriminate in whom we help with our acts of kindness or financial resources, helping wisely does require a measure of discrimination. The following guidelines are helpful: pray for God's guidance; investigate the situation when necessary; remember that it's God's money being used; and ask whether the situation is a recurring pattern. In many circumstances, there are more effective ways to give than actually transferring money.
While Jesus appears to have helped indiscriminately, He had what we don't — perfect divine knowledge. God desires that we use our resources to assist the needy, but helping wisely takes steps to ensure that we use prudently what God has given us. Let us ask God to help us see opportunities that we might otherwise overlook.
Prayer: Merciful Father, give us wisdom to help wisely when we encounter situations that You desire us to intervene in. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Love Lifted Me" (Lyrics)