Part of my responsibility as the pastor of a ‘city church’ is meeting with people on their toughest days. I am regularly greeted at the doors of the church by individuals who are in need; some needs are basic (transportation, baby formula, rent) and some are more complicated (train fare to a distant hospital, airfare to a distant funeral). So I offer some assistance. What else can I do? Because of the limited resources we all have, we occasionally are found reaching into our own pockets to offer some compassion hoping that we are helping those with a genuine need.
Despite my rigid scrutiny, I have recently been duped by people with convincing sincerity and carefully crafted pleas. One person came asking for a loan of a few dollars, promising that when the direct-deposit was made in the morning he’d return to repay the kindness…he must have forgotten where the church is located. Another person called from a legitimate-sounding advocacy center saying that a client of theirs was in need of a public transit pass and that their funding was delayed, but certainly a voucher has been submitted to reimburse me for the expense of the assistance…pray for that legitimate-sounding advocacy center as they’ve been unfunded now for weeks. It is enough to make a person calloused to the real and present needs of the community.
I want to shake my fist and dismiss anyone who comes for help. Who takes advantage of the kindness of God? Well, me.
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6:35
According to Doctor Luke, the Most High – God Almighty – is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Certainly, some of those that come to the church doors with a tale of woe are among the ungrateful and the wicked. Certainly, some of those that come to the church doors and enter to worship are likewise ungrateful (and, by extension, just a bit wicked). I know that I am.
To be honest, I am not perfectly appreciative of all that God allows me to enjoy. I do not delight in every sunrise or offer grace at every meal. I do not recognize every answered prayer or use every good and perfect gift appropriately. I occasionally think that I can do what I want with what I have with no regard for how I acquired it or from whom it was acquired. I, too, come to the Lord with hat in hand, promising to do whatever it takes to gain what I need, without gratitude or goodness. God showed me kindness.
We all are faced with an option in life: Love your enemies, do good and lend, or don’t. When we refuse to help those around us, we may miss out on the blessing of sharing God’s grace with others who genuinely need God’s assistance. When you do, your reward will be great and you will be reflecting your adoption by God. If you decide to help, a few people will take advantage of your kindness (just as some take advantage of God’s) but others will be helped and glorify our father in heaven.