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Benevolence April 3, 2008

Filed under: church,james,ministry — Dj @ 12:58 pm

I have 4 lessons to write today because it’s been a busy week and I haven’t gotten around to it. So while I’m having trouble with my lesson writing, I thought I would procrastinate with this question.

Lately we have had a flow of people contacting the church asking for help and assistance with hotels rooms and food and such. Food is easy, we have a food pantry that we can either take food to people or they can come and get what they want. Generally, our Senior Pastor deals with all of the benevolence requests but as he’s been out this week due to surgery I’ve had to talk with some of these people.

The question I have is, what do you do? I talked to a woman on Sunday who I felt had a genuine need and had kids so I paid for their hotel room with our church credit card and found a generous person to give them money for food that evening. Yesterday a man came into my office with the same request. He had contacted the church on Sunday and asked for help and to my knowledge the elders had said they would pay for his room but lost contact with him (his story). So I (on behalf of the church) agreed to pay for his hotel room and give him a ride back to town.

I found out this morning that this man had contacted the church on Easter and one of our elders agreed to pay for his room and did so. The Sunday that he had “lost contact” with the elders was in fact a lie, they paid for his room for that Sunday evening. So here was a man that was taking advantage of the system. Two completely different situations.

How would you approach those situations?
Do you decide to cover all that ask and open yourself up for people to take advantage of the system or do you turn away people who potentially are in genuine need?
The age old question: What would Jesus do?

Jesus was fairly straight forward with his message of loving your neighbor as yourself. James echoes the acts of faith:

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” – James 4:17

But Paul warns against being idle:

“We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” – 2nd Thessalonians 3:11,12

To be honest, I’m completely torn on this issue. Me and Carrie have talked about it a lot this week neither of us can come up with a satisfactory answer. It’s a difficult thing to wrestle with. Your comments and insights are appreciated.


2 Responses to “Benevolence”

  1. katbradley Says:

    So, here’s my take. I am responsible for how I handle my resources, for being generous when it seems right to do so.
    The con-man will answer for his actions, pehaps not now, but later.
    Probably giving the actual room or meal is better than just giving the cash.

  2. Abigail Says:

    this is always a hard one. from a personal level, i don’t want to be taken advantage of… but when i look at Christ, he poured himself out, regardless of what was done with it. so don’t beat yourself up when you are con-ed, because at the end of the day, you have done what’s right in the eyes of the Lord. God doesn’t say, nope that person wasn’t deserving, so what you did wasn’t good. We evaluate it that way, because we know we have been had. but Christ gave, no matter what the cost, to all of us very undeserving con-artists. so i try to remind myself of that, even though i spend most of my life self-protecting, instead of pouring out the Spirit when it urges me to.

    that’s my thoughts as of today. 🙂

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