It’s one of those incidents where you hope to yourself that you can avoid this person. You hope they don’t talk to you. You hope that they either exit the room or bother someone else.
But once again you get put in this predicament, a fork in the road type of feeling. As he begins talking and slurring words that are destined for a request, you try hard in your heart of hearts to know how to get him away from you immediately.
To add to it though, we were in a meeting at a fast food restaurant and people could hear that we were talking about planting a church. So now our Christianity was on the line. We had to show that we were followers of Christ. So we bought the guy a meal. As he went to the register to order, we could tell by the cashier’s conversation with him that he came in quite often. His story started to replay in our minds. We started to feel like the victims of a scam. Or maybe more appropriately, enablers.
This scenario is something that many of us recognize and understand from our own experiences. We have helped people to find them using the same story in the same place with different victims. Many of us can tell stories where we showed mercy to people and were dismayed to see that we were only one of many “helpers”. In essence, our gift or contribution began to feel more like money going into a ponzi scheme.
At least when a crooked televangelist sells you a prayer towel for $100, you get the towel and the feeling that God might be happy with you.
What do we do with Mercy? Is it irresponsible to give money to people who have schemed their way to it? But then again, would I have given it to him if he walked in smiling, saying, “Hey, wanna give me some money?”
A lot of my friends ask me about how extreme Jesus’ demands of following him are. Selling all that we have and giving it to the poor. Feeding, clothing and housing the homeless stranger. These are extremely difficult things for many of us. But I believe one of the reasons he demands so much out of us is because he knows that we’ll constantly try to hold something back. He has given his entire perfect life in the place of our broken lives. When we error, one thing for sure is that most of our errors won’t be because we give too much. Most of the time, our errors will be because we don’t give enough.
A lot of people are just now discovering the problems with how mercy can end up bringing a negative impact. There is a book titled, ‘When Helping Hurts” that gives much detail to stories and the difficulties people have found in showing Mercy.
Was Jesus wrong when he said to sell all you have and give it to the poor?
Will we eventually end poverty?
Who receives more when someone helps someone else out?
17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [a]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
Mercy can seem like an irresponsible idea. But when you realize that mercy not only helps the person receiving, it also helps yourself. You show mercy because we have all at times needed Mercy. We have had immediate needs that needed immediate help. In this though, we should seek wisdom on when and how much to show mercy.
Jesus’ statements towards our generous giving shakes things up. It shatters our world of control and stability. But if he was telling the rich young ruler to give so that the poor are rich, the story would have been different.
Notice what he say’s following “give to the poor”.
“And you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Jesus wants us to kill our idols and focus on his glory. His kingdom. You’ll have treasure in heaven. Quit allowing these things to become idols in your life. Money keeps you from me. Kill that idol. You’ll have treasure’s in heaven. Come! Follow me!
Jesus desires us to be his followers. It’s best for us. ‘Stuff’ has become a barrier between us and God.
We don’t give to the poor just because they are in need. We are in need of giving. We are in need of being freed from the bondage of stuff. Materials. Money.
It’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God because Money has become his god.
Give to the poor. But know that through giving, you’ll receive way more than the recipient will.