Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Accountability Mixed with Grace

A few days before Christmas one year, I delivered children's gifts to a family who had requested help. These families, I was told, were unable to provide gifts for their children. I did not know the children but purchased age and gender appropriate gifts and wrapped in bright paper.

I placed the gifts under the tree with the many other gifts already there. Although I did not know this families circumstances; I did walk away with the feeling that a lack of Christmas presents was not their problem.

I was recently told of a woman who converted a spare bedroom into a large pantry that included a freezer filled with turkeys. The room served as a clandestine convenience store for her neighbors. She patiently waited in food pantry lines to restock her shelves. “You can't steal what's free,” she probably reasoned.

Stories like these can be discouraging. We want to help those in need but we don't want to facilitate abuse. We want to empower rather than enable.

Familiarity is one factor that limits abuse. The Bible tells us that the early church would support members in need. Familiarity made this easier. There were no strangers in the early church. If a person lied, they were easily caught.

When churches help their own (as we see in the book of Acts), the results both honor God and lead to spiritual fulfillment. Sadly, churches can wind up enabling people in their deceit in a rush to bring help.

The Bible teaches us three important principles:
  1. We identify with Jesus when we serve the poor
We must use discernment to determine when and how to act. Discernment allows us to mix grace with accountability; a formula that leads to spiritual success for both the helper and the person receiving aid.


T L Grover said...

Recently learned of this material.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Jorge!
I think our church as well as our community would be much better served if there was accountability required.