Give, Even If...
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:1-2 NIV
Maybe this verse is not directly speaking about being benevolent towards people who ask for money, but then again, maybe it is.
We all know there are professional con-artists who hop from generous people to generous people, living off the backs of hard working individuals. They do this to churches too. When they ask from churches, and we give from the money we collect during our offering, some people consider this “the Lord’s money”, as if the money in our pockets wasn’t also. It’s all God’s money, but I agree we need to attempt to determine a genuine need before giving from the money contributed by the saints, because we are aware that many people make asking for money a profession, as opposed to working for their money. If you are like me, you have been taken advantage of, perhaps several times. It does make giving to the next person a little harder, and we are more cautious.
The thought today is that if we are going to err, let’s err on the side of mercy. What do I mean by that? When I stand before God some day, I rather be able to say I gave to someone who conned me, who fooled me, who lied about the need for money and I gave anyway, as opposed to being told by God that people who genuinely needed money asked me, and I declined because I could not determine whether or not they were a con-artist, and didn’t want to be taken advantage of.
Benevolence is often a door to evangelism. God tells us to let our works be seen, for His glory, and this is often proven in our willingness to be benevolent. It would be nice if the con-artists came with a tattoo on their forehead, but they don’t. Let us not stop giving because occasionally someone gets the best of us.
A lot of people in the world hate the church and what it stands for, and they tell us often enough. They like to point out hypocrisy, and we admit that as humans, we have these problems. But I sincerely believe that in spite of their hate for us, that when we are benevolent, they at least respect the fact that we are doing good to outsiders. The more we can be seen practicing what we preach, the more God’s goodness is demonstrated in love. Let us be willing to help those in need, even knowing sometimes that those we help don’t need the money, but it’s something else they are really in dire need of.