I struggle with when to give and when not to give to. I know that sometimes, when someone stops you on the street and asks for money, they are probably not going to use it how they say they are going to use it. Then there are the times they pitch up at church with the sob story about not being able to pay for the bed at the centre or the fare to get to the job that will put them back on track. Sometimes there's a prison element to the story, always there is an element of heartache.
The reality is that these are well rehearsed stories designed to gain your trust and elicit a response involving your wallet. Excuse the cynicism, but it's what we've learned or been taught. But I have a bigger problem. What if the need is genuine? What if the story is true and it's not just a con? If I say no to helping them, what am I condemning them face?
So often I give them what they ask for.
Am I crazy? Probably, but I give because one day it will matter. One day it will make a difference. One day I'll be entertaining angels unaware. And have I actually been conned if I think that's what is happening anyway?
I'm writing this because I had a visitor the other day who needed help. I thought as they spoke that this was the usual stuff. I was even ticking off the items on my mental check-list of what happens when you're been taken for a ride. But still I gave them what they needed and as we shook hands and they left I thought to myself, "I won't be seeing that money again."
I may still be right, but here's the thing. They called me to say thank you and to let me know how they were getting on. That has never happened before. I was shocked and surprised. Maybe this time it was genuine and this time it will make a difference. Maybe this is the one time that it was right to give and I'd have missed it had I stuck to a hard line of no money available.
Honestly I don't know what to make of it all. But I'll just wait and see what God does with it. I may never know, not until heaven at least, whether I've been part of a bigger work of God in this person's life or not. but I had the chance, and today I'm glad I took it.
I have a hundred reasons and excuses not to give money away like this. All of them make sense. But I have one reason to give. God loves people, broken people, and his great desire is to bless them. He's chosen me as a part of the plan to bring this blessing about.