Focus: Christian responsibility
1 John 3:16-18 (NCV) This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave His life for us. So we should give our lives for our brothers and sisters. Suppose someone has enough to live and sees a brother or sister in need, but does not help. Then God’s love is not living in that person. My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring.
Whether you’re a giver or a receiver, there are some important things to consider regarding Christian responsibility, when it comes to tangible expressions of love.
A brother or sister who has never been in need before, might have an awkward time discussing their need and making it known. People who don’t want to have to rely on others are very challenged by the idea of ‘taking charity’.
The opposite extreme, are people who have no problem letting others know when they have a need. They’ve become used to sharing the details of their life, so whenever there’s opportunity for them to make one of their needs known—they will. In addition, they’ve become content to let others take care of them, when truthfully, they could be perfectly capable of taking care of themselves…with a little direction.
A friend of mine told me recently about a period of her life when she was making excellent income—actually much more than she needed to live on. During that time, she realized that she was in a position to share with her adult siblings, so she did. She gave them housing and even provided generously for their everyday needs. As time passed, the economy took a nosedive and my friend was forced to make radical cut backs in her own lifestyle. Regretfully, she had to face the fact that she could no longer support her extended family. Unfortunately, her siblings had become accustomed to receiving all that my friend had been able to bless them with…in fact, they developed an ‘entitlement mentality’. When the day came that my friend had to tell her siblings that she was no longer able to pay their bills, instead of telling her, “Thanks for all you’ve done,” they actually turned on her and made her out to be the ‘bad guy’, for ‘cutting them off’.
This may be an exceptional case, but it is a reality of what can happen when people get used to receiving something they really don’t deserve—that they didn’t earn. My friend’s siblings were ‘able bodied’ and not ‘in need’.
Another scenario is the ‘unemployment syndrome’. In a season of unemployment, a person can become very insecure about the future. Some people simply need encouragement with their ‘self-esteem’ to get back on their feet. If they lost their last job, they still may be suffering from the experience, and might fear they would face more rejection if they tried to work again. However, a person who lost a job shouldn’t consider themselves ‘unemployable’. Lots of people who were terminated from one position went on to become successful at another. Losing a job doesn’t have to be the end of the world for anyone, unless they allow it to be. The Bible says people who don’t work should not be entitled to eat. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The Bible is clear about the fact that not everybody who is unemployed is worthy of assistance.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NCV) says, “Remember this! In the last days there will be many troubles, because people will love themselves, love money, brag, and be proud. They will say evil things against others and will not obey their parents or be thankful or be the kind of people God wants. They will not love others, will refuse to forgive, will gossip, and will not control themselves. They will be cruel, will hate what is good, will turn against their friends, and will do foolish things without thinking. They will be conceited, will love pleasure instead of God, and will act as if they serve God but will not have His power. Stay away from those people.”
An unemployed person who fits into some of the description given in the verses above, probably needs to accept responsibility for taking care of their own needs and start working. Too much help from well-meaning people, can enable some people to continue being ‘needy’. It can also take away a person’s intentions of becoming independent or self-supporting.
In recovery from depression and dependency, a person who started out in a time of true need might fall into a ‘victim mentality’ and allow their situation to extend beyond normal limits if they aren’t encouraged to move forward. It’s important to remember ‘tangible expressions of love’, shouldn’t become a situation of bondage or dependency.
Declaration: I will find new strength by seeking God’s guidance and searching the scriptures for wisdom, should any of these situations occur in my life or the life of someone close to me.
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