Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Trouble with Love

It's so easy for me to be generous. Before my money was shared and (somewhat) carefully saved to pay off a house, nothing would make me happier than to spend my entire pay check to buy people random gifts, cards, flowers, whatever. I loved it. It comes naturally to me (probably passed from my parents), so's really easy.

That is, if I like you.

The problem is, that's probably not true generosity. Could you label me as a generous, giving person if I'm not willing to help anyone out that I don't know or especially like?

A couple weeks ago a lady knocked on our door. She sounded like she was in a hurry, and told us she was our neighbor a few houses behind us, and that her daughter was in day care and had a seizure. She asked if we could please give her a ride there. So, of course, we gave her a ride.

She also needed money.

Let's pause here. It is my general opinion that if someone is willing to ask a complete stranger for money, they must 1) be in a terribly desperate situation or (more likely) 2) be quite used to asking for money from anyone. I could be wrong, but that's how I feel.

But my husband is a sweet guy. And we didn't know for sure if she was a fake. So I gave her all the cash we had on us (which was $10, a lot for people who don't ever, ever carry cash).

As we dropped her off at her "sister's" after she had dropped by the "day care", I thought "we're never going to see her again." She had, of course, promised to pay back the $10 that very evening, but I knew not to expect it. In truth, what bothered me most was not the loss of $10. It was that I'm certain that this woman was not even our neighbor. She was someone walking down our street who needed a ride and some cash. How can people be that way? How can they lie and take advantage of caring people?

This bothered me for about a week. I know that we are supposed to be giving, helping the poor, and caring for others. We should give because we have, and others do not. But we are also supposed to shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. While in our car she heard some music playing and said "you guys are Christians. Amen." After stewing over this for a week, I realized that I am not the one to be pitied. I lost $10. Oh, no. $10 that I only had because God has provided Jono and me with jobs. What's more is that this woman probably has much bigger problems than lying and stealing. Her soul should concern me more than my money.

This morning I read this:
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:27-36

He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. And I know that's true, because He is kind to me.

I still think that we should be careful with our money, because God gives it to us, and we shouldn't throw it away. But I'm willing to bet that my generosity record isn't up to par with what Jesus would want.

What would you do in that situation?


Tricia said...

Wow. I think everyone has had a similar encounter, where someone frantically knocks on your door or approaches you, in some crazy urgent situation that is always more than pathetic, and asks for some money, which they will give back in time. I remember this happening about 4 years ago, at our house. My dad is the generous, sympathetic parent, and my mom is the shrewd, realistic parent. I think, after a couple of minutes of conversation between the two of them, they sent him with about $10 and he left. I think he was asking for more, and I was mad that they didn't give him more help. My perspective has definitely changed.
I think the best example,other than Jesus (duh), may be found in Les Miserables. The scene with the candlesticks. That takes some serious laying down of pride/ rights/ justice. It takes grace,which is a lot easier to take than give.
Sorry, this ended up being more of a post than a comment =)

Dale said...

Ouch. I had a very similar situation just two weeks ago-- a woman wanted a ride to pick up her daughter from daycare, so I gave it. When we got there, she wanted money, and that's where I put my foot down.

Jenny said...

Those are some really good verses to turn to! My husband would probably do the same thing as you. I, on the other hand, am not as nice. Honestly, I don't open the door to anyone I don't know if Nathan's gone. So if it were up to me that situation wouldn't have happened. LOL!

tsbjf said...

Woah. Those verses hit it pretty spot on, huh? I agree with you though, that we do need to be careful. I'm not sure what we would have done in that situation.

Joy said...

Hm, maybe I'm just not very approachable, I don't think anythng like that has ever happened to me, and I don't really know how I would handle such a situation, but strangers scare me, so I would probably be more willing to give a little money than a ride, I'm guessing.

Annemarie said...

I think I would have done the same. My father is a minister, and people call upon him all of the time personally for money. He's always generous, but I don't think people know how little he makes. It scares me when I hear the these people are showing up at their house at 1am.
It's so hard to draw that line between an abuser and someone who really needs help. I try to give when I can, but I know I'm nowhere near as generous as I really could be.