Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving to the Poor Etiquette

Giving isn’t easy. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Everyone has a number of social rules about giving. And when you cross social lines—such as class or cultural lines—then the situation is just plain uncomfortable. So many people prefer to give through organizations, so they don’t have to deal with people face to face. And for some people, who might end up insulting the people they are trying to help, that might be best.

But in most situations it is best to give to people face-to-face. Can you imagine, if you just got kicked out of your house and needed a friend to give you some money for a bus ticket to live with some family in the next town and they responded, “I just give to the local mission”? How comforting would that be? How much love would you feel?

As believers in Jesus, we are to love those in need. Check out the parable of the Good Samaritan, if you doubt. Thus, if we see people in need, our obligation is to love—to feel compassion for them and to try to meet their need. No one can scream at you, “Love them or else you’ll be punished!” Love just doesn’t work that way. Love is something we develop over time so we can feel the emotion, not just do the action. But in order to feel love, we first have to do love.

So this week we will discuss some tips to get started. They are basic etiquette to helping the needy face to face. It isn’t a step by step guide—sorry, but you’ve got to figure that out yourself. But there are some guidelines here so we can remember that this is an exercise in compassion and meeting needs, not just charity.

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