Jesus on Poverty (kind of)
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Matthew 5:42 (Dave’s Translation)
Give to the one who asks you, after, of course, you have made sure they’re not just going to buy beer with your money, and after, of course, you think you have a good handle on how much they need it, and whether they’re struggling because of their own stupid choices or if they are truly down on their luck, because of course you don’t want to enable anybody because there are a lot of deadbeats out there you know, and after all, you work very hard for your money and why should you just give it to this guy just because he’s asking for it anyway? And do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you, unless of course you can slip conveniently behind a pillar or something at the mall or, if you can’t, at least empty your wallet and leave your money in the car so you can say you don’t have any cash, and if he asks you to buy him a meal with debit, think a lot about your time and how late you’ll be and how hungry people really creep you out, after all, and then you will finally end up turning the guy away (which you knew was the plan all along, I mean who are we kidding?), but at least you’ll have really struggled for a while with whether or not to help before finally just making peace with not helping. It will help greatly to look to politics, where you will find all kinds of seemingly good reasons for not engaging with your fellow man when you are directly asked to do so.
I think a lot of people think that’s what it says.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, is always talking about the heart.
There will be times you really don’t have money, you really do have a commitment to be somewhere, or for some other reason, you really can’t give.
You have nothing to feel guilty about in those circumstances.
But this thing about whether the person will buy beer with the money, or exactly what they’ll do with it – for God’s sake, how much of our own hard-earned money do we throw away on latte every week?
We’ll waste $50 on something we don’t need for the house, and then get all concerned about what somebody else might do with the $2 we just gave them.
It just doesn’t make sense, and that’s not the role God has given us.
There is joy in helping, and from time to time we’re given the opportunity to enter into that joy.