by Larry Barker, Director of North American Church Planting
Lately, whenever I go into a gas station someone is always asking for help because they are out of money and stranded. I have been approached more lately than I can ever recall and it does not matter if I am travelling in state, out of state, or close to home.
I am always confused on who to help and who not to help. There have been times I have helped and other times I have refused and when I have helped it felt good, but I must admit when I didn’t help I felt terrible.
It makes me wonder if sometimes I use stewardship of my money as an excuse to be stingy more than a reason to be wise.
Allow me to relate one recent encounter I had and I must admit that I really didn’t want to be bothered. I noticed someone approaching the gas pump I was using. Aggravation began to swell up inside me and I was about to tell them, “Hey, get a job like the rest of us!” When I turned around to set them straight it was a young lady about 21 years of age balancing a baby on each hip.
I looked at her and sternly said, “Pull your car up over there and I will put some gas in it for you!” She told me she wanted to pay me back but I told her it was a gift not a loan.
When she asked me why I just told her I wanted to display the love of Christ to her in a practical way.
Recently my wife and I were discussing our S.O.A.P. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) devotions in Proverbs 3. We were comparing which verses we had chosen to journal on. It is actually a lot of fun to see which verse we choose and we hardly ever choose the same one.
She had chosen Proverbs 3:27 which says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Wow, that really got me and I begin to study more what God said about being generous to those less fortunate. Honestly, I am a pro when it comes to thinking of reasons why I should not help those in need.
The principle here is clear: We have been blessed so that we can bless others. It is not ours but belongs to the Lord. It is a question of stewardship.
When God leads us to help someone and we do not help, we have betrayed his trust in us. Still need some convincing? Still struggling a little with this one?
Jesus exhorts us in Matthew 5 to go the extra mile and in verse 42 he says, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
The general rule that our King gives us is that it is better to give sometimes to an undeserving person, than to turn away one who really is in need.
Matthew 25:35-40 says, “ 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, 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.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“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.’”
We should make it a habit to be generous! I shared the story of the young lady needing gas at Jackson Missionary Baptist Church during a revival I recently had the privilege to preach there. On the last night of the meeting the pastor came to me with an envelope and told me that an anonymous person had given him this so I could help buy gas for people who were in need.
Later I opened it up and there was $300 all in twenties. Once again God had confirmed to me that it is better to give than receive. This evening I went to the gas station looking for someone I could bless but came up empty. Oh, well, I seem to be in gas stations a lot these days so there is always tomorrow!