Picture the scene, if you will…
Our Lord, Jesus, is out among the people with His disciples. He blesses, He comforts, He heals, He forgives sins.
Then someone else approaches and pleads for help.
Jesus looks her over carefully, and finally He responds:
Well, you sure do have a lot of needs.
Listen, I can either forgive your sins, fix your crippled leg, provide for your family since your husband died, or heal your sick daughter.
There are a lot of people who need My assistance, you know, so you can only have so much help.
You can’t imagine our Saviour saying that?
Neither can I.
So – since we are the Body of Christ - why is that the attitude of so many people who are in positions of authority in ministries specifically designed to help others?
Imagine that you are in charge of a direct people-helping ministry. For this example, let’s assume it’s something like a “Family Assistance” program at your church.
The ministry collects donations of money, goods, food, clothing, etc. Plus you receive a budget out of the church collection.
People come to you when they’re in a bind. Sometimes you can offer them food off the shelves, or winter coats, or shoes. Toys for the kids at Christmas. You also get Gift Cards for gasoline and groceries at nearby locations.
You offer counseling on getting the electric bill pushed back, and reducing the phone bill. And, when push comes to shove, you can help by directly paying some utility bills.
Of course you screen the folks that come to you for help. You want to make sure they aren’t just feeloaders, and that they aren’t out buying booze with your grocery cards.
But what is your long-term view?
After a few visits, do you tell someone that you have “helped them enough”?
All too often, it seems that people in this type of role feel the need to “play god” in the lives of the people who come to them for help, and also have a finite view of what they should do before they have “helped enough” and that person should be on their way.
A while back, I posted a great lesson from a travelling revival team on giving, illustrated with a fun story about sharing M&M’s.
His main point – quite obvious in that lesson – was simply that if you had the resources to help a brother or sister, you needed to help them.
Jesus said (in Matthew 26) that we would always have the poor with us, and (in Galatians) that we should bear one another’s burdens (in love, no less). James specifically instructs us to care for orphans and widows, and Deuteronomy even adds “strangers” to the list!
Nowhere in Scripture do any of these commands have exceptions, time limits, or qualifications.
So why are we hoarding our M&M’s?