Our community has an incredible outreach ministry called The Christian Service Center. For several decades this center has met the needs of thousands of homeless, helpless, and hurting people. It is truly a God called ministry ran by a family who have given their lives to serve God in this capacity.
Meeting these physical needs is part of fulfilling the call of Christ. After all, Jesus did say, “When I was hungry you fed Me, when I was thirsty you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.” (Do you notice we keep coming back to this passage?) The Christian Service Center is doing a phenomenal job in obedience to Jesus’ words. But is the local church doing a phenomenal job in our obedience? Jesus also said, “If someone wants to sue you for your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” He did not say, “Do a background check. Make sure he’s not taking advantage of the church.” Ouch!!! That punches us in the righteous gut doesn’t it.
So the argument is, “Well, there are people who scam the church and we want to make sure that’s not being done. After all, we are supposed to be good stewards of what He has provided.” You are correct, but He said to give it. Jesus said, “If your son asks for bread will you give him a stone.” Maybe another way of putting it is, “If someone asks to pay their power bill will you send them to the shelter?”
When we think about it, aren’t we guilty of taking advantage of God’s goodness and grace? Don’t we take for granted all that He has provided? Doesn’t that make us like the unmerciful servant who, after he had been forgiven an insurmountable debt, turned and demanded payment from someone who was broke and broken?
When we help those in need we are being obedient to God. If they are taking advantage of the church, they have to answer for it. If we are disobedient to God, we have to answer for it. The early church sold their possessions to give to the poor and there was no one needy among them. (Acts 4:32-37)
I believe our problem comes from the fact that we don’t want to take the time to see what the true need is. “There is system put in place so let’s take advantage of the system,” is the thought. How many times do we close the door to sharing the love of God with someone in need? What sacrifices am I willing to make to be used by God? If I truly believe He has provided all my needs according to His riches in Glory, can’t He also replace the stuff if someone takes advantage of us? On a scale of 1-10, 1 being unworthy and 10 being righteous, where do you rate the giving nature of the church? Then ask, “How can we be more obedient to God in serving the needs of others?”