Yesterday in the mail, I got an envelope from one of those organizations asking for donations. I opened it, threw the letter out without reading it, and set aside the nice personalized return address labels and notepad they included as a gift for supporting them.
Now, I’ve never supported them, have no intention of supporting them in the future, but I didn’t want to just throw away those nice gifts! But, I do have a little guilt about it… The organization is a great one, it’s just that we can’t give money to everyone. And this is definitely the time of year that everyone asks.
Also yesterday, a couple of friends and I were having a discussion about how we respond when people on the street ask for money. We talked about not trusting what the money would be used for and therefore not wanting to give it. As a Christian, both of these situations trip me up. Jeff and I are giving people, we give to the church and we have some organizations that we give to. We try to help friends either with money or meals when we can. But we also say, “No” to more organizations than we give to. We say, “No” to people on the street. It makes me wonder what Jesus would want us to do…
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25)
I know that Jesus does not expect me to be everyone’s “problem fixer”. I know that Jesus does not expect me to be able to feed everyone. But I then think back to when Jesus fed the crowd in Matthew 15.
32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children.
Just as I think I don’t have enough money to help everyone I come in contact with, the disciples didn’t think they had enough food for the crowd. But Jesus took the 7 loaves and fish and fed 4000 men and an uncounted number of women and children. So, is it possible if I gave something, no matter how small – even $1, to everyone who asks, that God could multiply it in the same way?
I don’t have any answers for you, my friends. I’m just sharing something that trips me up – because like I said, in my human eyes, I know I can’t help everyone… but I also know that when I read through the gospels, Jesus didn’t turn people away. So how can I? I don’t want to hear Jesus say to me, “I was hungry but you did not feed me.” How do I know that I’m doing “enough”? Not for salvation – because I know that’s through Jesus’ blood on the cross and not from my works… But enough that when I stand before Jesus, He will say:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 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.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25)
So that’s what’s twirling around in my brain right now… Like I said, I have no answers, just thoughts. I’d love to hear yours – let’s make it a discussion!