Most of the people I know in the Church are generous. If they knew there was a legitimate need, they would empty their wallet in a moment’s notice. I recently witnessed this when our church was asked to buy gifts for a family at a Christian children’s home. We were supposed to buy 24 gifts. The cards for those requests were taken in seconds, and we still had a dozen people donate for additional gift cards. It was amazing to witness.
The problem that I see is that there are two kinds of people in the Church.
1.People who have needs and always ask.
Some of the local pastors and I serve on a ministry to give away thousands of dollars to our community. There was a fund set up by a rich man years ago and the interest off of his investments are to be given away for Christmas. Each year we take meticulous records and this year we noticed almost everyone who received money had asked at least once in previous years.
As a Church leader, I admit that this group can be difficult to handle. The question of, “How much should we help?” The other question of, “Can we help them in better ways like financial counseling?” Obviously, there are always questions about addictions that seem to surface. These are questions I have wrestled with for years.
My only guiding thought is to err on the side of grace. Be more generous than you think you should. I often think that the Church in the Bible is called to take care of widows and orphans. One day it dawned on me that both of those are long-term projects. You have to help an orphan until he can work and support himself. What is that, like 10-15 years? Also, you have to take care of widows until they pass away. How long is that? Both of those might require years and years of people being generous, so I think God’s plans are bigger than mine.
2. People who need help, but will never ask.
This second group I find the most intriguing. Most of us know someone who could use a helping hand, but they will never ask, no matter how bad it gets. This year the Church I serve had a lady ask for help to get out of a huge hole. Once we helped her, she wrote a long note to the Church telling us how she hated to ask but how grateful she was for the help.
I really don’t know what drives this group of people. I don’t know whether they have too much pride to ask or if they are ashamed of what got them in this situation. It seems clear that they are afraid of the judgment of the people of whom they ask for money.
My guiding thought for this group is to tell them that we want to help. Christians are people who want to help others. If we knew you had a real need, there would be an outpouring of gifts and love by all. The only issue is that they have to ask. Being angry that no one helped you is wrong if you never ask for help. People cannot read minds.
I firmly the believe that people want to be generous. I have seen it happen over and over. There is this fine line of enabling people in their failures and missing the opportunity to help. My simple suggestion to all believers is that if God lays someone or some situation on your heart and you feel like you could help – then by all means help. God will hold them responsible for what they do with it, just the same as he holds us accountable for what we do with everything he has given us.