“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
Trying to help people I’ve had questions. At the onset I must admit that my husband, Bill, is more generous than I am when it comes to helping those in need. In particular we gave aid (financial and material) to three women over a stretch of about ten years. I tried to understand but repeated Jesus’ words: “You will always have the poor with you” (Matt. 26:11). Their requests didn’t seem to end, and frankly I contended that we had better use of our money. I admit that my reluctance to help these women, needy as they were, rested in my fear for our own future.
Some irrelevant questions came to the surface: Does she deserve it? Will she appreciate it? I also knew the answers didn’t matter when it came to deciding about helping them.
Needs are transitory (tending to pass away). Help is temporary (lasting for a limited time). Yet the relevant questions remain about compassionate concern, ability and willingness to help. We have no lack of opportunity to help people, and often we argue against compassion and for discernment. Both are necessary. We can all look back on times when we were needy and someone helped.
Working at the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Brazil, IN, we offered supplies to clients yet asked ourselves, “How can another visit bring any lasting good?” We doubted whether we could lift a girl out of her present state as we questioned our temporary help. I received help from something George MacDonald wrote:
“Some [people] are so pitiful over their poor neighbor, [for] they shall have the poor with them always, they will do for him nothing at all: ‘Where is the use?’ they say. . . . While the rich giver is saying, poor fellow, he will be just as bad next month or sooner!’. . . Help in such soil is a quick seed and of rapid growth. . . . Everything in this world is but temporary: why should temporary help be undervalued?. . . Is help help or is it not? If it be help then it is divine, and comes from God our Savior” (emphases mine). –from his novel Castle Warlock
I close with a quote from A. W. Tozer: “Find something to do for God and your fellow man. Refuse to rust out. Make yourself available to the one who is helping you grow in Christ and do anything you are asked to do. . . . Learn to obey.” –The Knowledge of the Holy