The Litmus Test For Help?
by Steven Miller
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I have had some random thoughts occur to me this evening and just wanted to write them out for future use so that I do not lose them.
Back before the advent of cell phones and most everyone having one, did we weigh whether someone had a telephone line in their home or not before we would give them aid of any sort? Did we weigh whether they had a TV in their home or any number of other things that seem to be used "against" people in judgment of them as to whether they truly need our help or not?
Oh, I'm fully aware that there are people who make their living going from church to church and charity to charity, which has made it difficult for people with legitimate needs to get help. Many just plain don't like having to jump through all the hoops that they have to jump through in order to get help, so many don't even bother ... all so that the giving organizations can be sure that they are "truly needy."
I recently heard of a young couple who needed help buying diapers and they went to their pastor with this need. The pastor asked them if they had cable TV. Like most everyone else in this day and age, indeed they had cable TV. The pastor then told them, "Well, there's your diaper money!" and he turned and walked away. Now while that's all well and good … perhaps for next month's diapers … it did absolutely nothing to help them out with their immediate need.
Regardless of how they got to where they needed to have help with buying diapers and whether you or I might agree with how they got there, the fact is they still needed diapers for their baby. Most of us seem to forget that with most subscription services like cable TV and cell phones, there is a service contract that one agrees to when you start the service. If you cancel the service before the designated period, you are charged rather hefty fees for early termination of service. So, I ask you, is it reasonable to assume that said couple would have had the ability to just cancel their cable TV to afford diapers or whatever the need is? Is it reasonable to assume that said needy person is any less in need because they have a cell phone? It is becoming more and more the case where people do not have house phones at all and only have cell phones. So, why did that become a litmus test for need? Was having a telephone in your home ever used in this manner?
I know that there's a lot of arguments that could go both ways with this, but that's not really my point here. Someone once said to me that it was hard to know who truly needs the help. I agree. This brings about the need to seek the Lord for everything ... every move we make. Never do we just hand over money for a stated need. If someone says they need diapers, then go buy them diapers; if there's a need for food, then get them food in some way; if gasoline, then put gas in their car.
Will there still be those who aren't truly needy getting help? Sure. My heart is, would it not be better to "accidently" help someone who didn't truly need the help, than risk not helping someone who is truly in need? I think so. Sure, I know I've been taken advantage of, but I also know that it is less likely that I will stand before Jesus one day and have to explain why I didn't help someone when I could.
"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
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