Jan 17, 2009

In Loving Others and Giving of Ourselves

We have a hard time and more often than not are more hard hearted toward those less fortunate than us because of skepticism. At least, this is what I tell myself. I've come to see that more oft than nought, the issue is not an uneasy feeling toward the consequences of what might come from helping a drifter, crack addict, or street junkie.

The problem lies within my own heart that causes my restraint. This restraint stems from an uncertain foreknowledge of whether or not my actions will be justified and I will receive gratification, praise from men, or thanks from those that are helped. When in all reality this motivation is tainted and dripping with evil, for we ought to seek out and help others not for the reasons of self gratification and praise, but for the glory of God. For whether or not we feel justified in our actions, we act on behalf of the grace given to us and live as a breathing testimony of the love of Christ. In turn, we preach the gospel not just in action, but in deed and word.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I was reading this over again in the context of a discussion you and I had not too long ago regarding a certain individual in need whom I felt could have implemented more evidence of accountability to an authority when asking for a financial handout. As you may recall, there was what I would label pride on behalf of the parties asking for money from their church for whatever reason, so they opted to appeal to the online community of readers on the World Wide Web.

My question to you is, and forgive me if I'm beating a dead horse, but when is the restraint a result of godly discernment and a desire to see others in need exercise some accountability for the grace and mercy that has been given them? Am I to give every single crack addict or street junkie a handout, simply because they are in need? You mention "the consequences of what might come from helping" these individuals. What if those consequences result in a greater irresponsibility than if I had not helped them at all?

The illustration you provide is one that was used to help me understand the doctrine of election. Do I give money to homeless people? Yes. Do I give money to every homeless person I meet? Of course not. What causes me to have mercy on some and not on others? I cannot answer that for you. I just have compassion upon whom I have compassion, and mercy upon whom I have mercy. I cannot explain it any other way. And this is exactly how God elects us.

That being said, I will say that any display of humility on behalf of the individual asking will compell me more. What reason do I have to believe that the street junkie or crack addict I help is not going to turn around and use the resources I give them to further their involvement in sin? Many have argued that this is not my call. My resources are not my own, but God's. However, we are called to be good stewards of those resources and I do believe there is evidence in scripture that God is a God of boundaries. To give to everyone in need, regardless of whether or not they have demonstrated some evidence of being responsible with the grace and mercy that is given them, is akin to the hypothetical situation given at the end of Romans 5 and the beginning of Romans 6. I don't think it is honoring to God to give to those who will abuse grace so that sin can abound all the more. I think this is, in a way, casting pearls before swine.

Just my .02, but I bet this is the first time you've had a comment that was longer than your original post! :D

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