My office phone rings, on the other end someone is asking the Church for financial assistance. There is a knock at the door, a mother desires food to feed her children. In my tenure as a full-time minister, I have interacted with numerous individuals during the lowest points in their lives. Some were there by their own doing while others were experiencing life’s lemons. A few of these interactions were nefarious in nature. Unfortunately, certain individual’s sole purpose was to scam the Lord’s church out of service or money and sometimes both. The stories I’ve heard during all these encounters ranged from heartbreaking to science fiction. However, there is one common denominator, one piece of information that the scammer and the sincere individual will readily share. Like clockwork, some will proclaim their story of “faith” or quote a passage of the Bible. This type of posturing is done in an effort to create in us a feeling of familiarity and belonging. It is done to gain your trust, confidence and subsequently your assistance. It is a technique used by con-artist with great success. On the other hand, it is also used by the sincere individual who believes that showing some mediocre form of religion will sway our hearts. To these individuals we sincerely say, that’s not what we want from you.
Platitudes of faith will not profit you anything while seeking assistance from the Lord’s people. What we desire is what the Lord demands. 1) We desire to aid you. Life happens to all of us at the most inopportune times. The wise Solomon wrote that time and chance happen to us all (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Our compassionate Father commanded His people to be a help during those times. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith, Galatians 6:9-10. While on His earthly ministry, Jesus preached about the importance of being benevolent. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me, Matthew 25:34-36. You don’t have to impress us with a phony show of faith. Our hearts are not swayed by those type of actions; they are directed by God’s compassion. We help because we care.
2) We desire to counsel you. During a conversation with a gentleman seeking assistance, he informed me that he left stable employment to come to the area in which I lived. Apparently, some man told him that better employment opportunities abounded there. He did not know the man nor did he verify that the information was true. In so doing he plunged his family into financial chaos to the point of living in their pickup truck. Sometimes folks are in terrible predicaments because they continue to make foolish decisions. We would be amiss if we aided you physically but failed to impart some words of wisdom to help you in the future. The Lord desires for us to be wise in life’s dealings. Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding, Proverbs 4:5-7. Just like the Lord, we desire that you think differently, that you use wisdom to alter your unfavorable conditions. We cannot force you to make good choices but we certainly want to encourage you to that end.
3) We want to save you. You have a need that transcends any physical need you could ever imagine. What’s worse is that you most likely don’t know that you are deficient in this area. Above all else, we desire the same thing the Lord desires, the salvation of your soul. God wants everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth (1 Timothy 2:4 & 2 Peter 3:9). He gave His Son on the cross so that you might have life (John 3:16). However dire your physical needs may be, they pale in comparison to your soul’s desperate need to be saved from the fires of Hell. We want to help you physically but more importantly, we want to aid you spiritually. More often than not when we assist someone we encourage them to come to Bible Study or spend some time with us in worship. These requests are not to merit the assistance received but stem from a pure desire to impart the message of salvation.
When seeking assistance it is not necessary to pretend that you are a deeply spiritual person. The assistance provided by the Lord’s people stem from hearts that act without partiality (James 2:1-4) and hearts that desire the well-being of all individuals. What we really want is honesty (Romans 12:17) and an opportunity to aid you in your time of need.