“for God loves a cheerful giver …” [2 Corinthians 9:7]

I have recently been asked for help by a friend. She is not the one in need but a family from her church is struggling with financial problems.

They have been in a financial ditch for the past couple of years. She and her husband are nice people, they have two wonderful daughters and are trying to figure out how to best live their life. They have a debt that is eating away most of his paycheck, and she just got a job after a long period of unemployment.  Moreover, from what I understand they are far from wise when it comes to finances and budgeting. None the less, until a year ago we and a couple other families have been helping them with a monthly sum of money.

So, you see, my friend was kind of embarrassed to ask us for help in their name. But they are in a desperate situation; they have not payed their rent for some time now and are threatened with eviction.

We will help them, both with money and with our prayers, but what is bothering me is that little voice in the back of my mind, that says “They don’t really deserve it” or “Don’t give them too much, they won’t manage it well anyway”.  I guess it’s human. Judging others, I mean. It comes naturally. Although we’re hardly in the position to judge.

That got me thinking about giving, and the reasons and motivations behind it. And then I couldn’t help visualizing  the one gift that I value most. The gift of Life, God’s gift of His Life so that we can have it abundantly. And I wondered what if Jesus had the same voice popping out in the back of His mind saying “She doesn’t deserve it, none of them deserve it”. Oh, I’m so grateful that He didn’t pay any attention to it, and gave Himself fully, knowing there was the risk that we mistreat His gift.  And what is even more intriguing is that He didn’t attach any conditions to this gift.

When helping people that “don’t deserve it” there is this temptation to make them “sign a contract”. You feel that if you force them to change one or two things that are wrong in their life in order to benefit from your gift, that will do them so much more good.  You know, like “OK, I’ll help you out this time but I want to see a monthly budget and I want you to commit to it”. Don’t get me wrong, these are good things and the motives might be laudable. But this just isn’t the way God gives.

He just gives. To those who appreciate it and to those who don’t. To those who deserve it (is there anyone? not the last time I counted ) ant especially to those who don’t. If there is a string attached to his gifts it’s only his invitation to get to know Him. He builds relationships. And hopes that if we hang out together we will end up learning a thing or two from Him. He hopes, he doesn’t impose. And you know what he does if He doesn’t see a return on investment? He just continues to give, His love, His blessings, His care. And He continues to hope.

After all this thinking, I feel much relieved and cheerful about giving to those in need whether my alter ego thinks they deserve it or not. I also feel compelled to completely model Christ’s generosity, by building a relationship with those we help. By giving them more than just money, by giving them love and a part of ourselves. Offering them our friendship and sharing tactfully practical wisdom that we have gained from our own struggles in this area. And most of all praying for them.