At the beginning of the month I got a call from a young mother of three children. She needed help with her rent. I will admit to you that I was in the middle of completing the Monday morning tasks. I was on a roll. This was a change in the game plan.
As a pastor it is challenging to know how to help a stranger. How do I decide who should be helped and who to pass by? How much money do I give them? How do I ensure that the funds are used for the intended purpose? Do I give them enough to cover the whole bill? Enough to cover part of the need-causing them to call other churches or helping agencies? Vetting random strangers is a daunting task. How do I live and love like Jesus?
When someone in scripture asked Jesus-he may have asked if they wanted to be healed. More often than not Jesus said something like “your faith has made you well.” One time he said to the man dying next to him “you will feast with me in paradise”. I don’t recall him asking for an address, next of kin, or digging into the back story. It is uncomfortable to probe into people’s lives. (Maybe during his encounter with the woman at the well. It was more like the woman made a confession.) On the other hand, I want to be a good steward of the discretionary funds that are available to me. It is a delicate balancing act.
What I learned from this young working mother: she had missed five days of work because she had the flu. Have any of you had the flu this year? It has been miserable; the lethargy, the aches and pains, and chills. During the couple of days that I felt miserable, I was down for the count.
Five days of lost wages made the difference for this woman and her children. She was intent on providing for them. She wanted to maintain her reputation with the management company. It was important to her that she be seen as capable and independent.
Maybe it was all true, maybe it wasn’t. The fact is we don’t know when we are entertaining angels. Ensuring that one has a meal, a roof, clean water, or clothing—money for rent or fuel—that is our calling to serve others as Christ has served us.