Luke 6: 27 (Jesus said) “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
This is such a challenging passage, particularly the part that reads, “Give to everyone who begs from you…”. Anyone besides me every feel awkward at a street light where a person is asking for money? My response to such persons has varied over the years. Sometimes I’ve been as generous as I could be. Other times I’ve told myself I’m probably just putting money into the hands of someone who is likely to use that money in sub-optimal ways. I’ve given food instead of money when I was prepared to do so. I’m sure there are other examples, but my point is that I haven’t been consistent in my practice.
Jesus offers a simple, focused direction here. Give to EVERYONE who begs from you. Everyone. There’s a part of me that rebels against this. If I’m giving money to someone who’s going to use that money to buy alcohol or drugs or whatever, aren’t I part of the problem? The obvious, logical answer is “yes”. I am enabling addictive behavior. But the sense I get from our passage for today is the command to give to those in need – and leave it to the Lord to deal with the rest. The situation is not mine to control. My job is to give when I have the ability to do so. That’s it.
Lord I have to admit this command still doesn’t quite sit right with me. I don’t want to enable addictive behavior if I can avoid it. But of course, in most cases, I have no way of knowing what a person will do with what I give them. I gather from this passage that I don’t need to worry about that, but simply to obey. Lord give me grace to do so. Amen.