Charity to the Brethren and to Strangers

“I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Sadly, there are those who shamelessly, under the guise of Christian brotherhood, take advantage of believers who endeavor to heed the apostle John’s admonition to treat both strangers and brethren charitably and “bring them forward on their journey after a godly sort.” (2 John 6).   

Because we are a lot that from the inception of the Church has been known for our love, unscrupulous men have become cunning in taking advantage of those who remember the words of the Lord Jesus who said ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35).

For the 49 years that it was my privilege to labor in the gospel ministry as senior pastor, it was almost a weekly occurrence that someone would petition either the church or myself for financial, material assistance.  To balance Christ’s warning that we ought be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves with the Biblical injunction to “do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith,” (Gal.6:10) was a delicate act that called for wisdom as well as on occasion the intuition of a godly wife!

We, my wife and I, have given to individuals over the years; in good faith, not a few of them professing believers who, with the advantage of hindsight, we sadly discovered, were deliberating scamming us in order to get money, all the while spinning a compelling story, couched in spiritual verbiage, that was a fabrication.  They were really good and could have made an honest living in theatre!

On one occasion I received a call from a man who was in the library of the University of Indianapolis (a couple of miles from our church) saying he had been reading the gospel of John and had serious questions.  He had a heavy British brogue.  I arranged to pick him up and bring him to my office which I did and after an hour or so on his knees with tears he “prayed” asking Christ to save him.  He was well dressed and as he got up and regained composure, he told me his rent was due that day and he was finishing a job on a grandfather clock repair but it had taken him longer than expected.  He needed $125 before day’s end.  After hearing more, I went to the bank and withdrew the said amount, then proceeded to drive him downtown to the office building he said his landlord worked in.  I went upstairs with him and when we got on the supposed right floor, he asked me to let him go alone to give the money to his landlord.  I complied, took him back to the library and made plans to pick him up for a Bible study that evening at the address he gave me at his home, near the university.  It was not until I returned to my office that it dawned on me that I should drive by the address to make sure I knew where he lived.  Wouldn’t you know, there was no such address!  That one really hurt!  Not so much the loss of money though at that particular time in our lives it was a lot of money to us, but that he had been so good at his con job, using a profession of faith, etc.  He deceived even the elect!

Well, that was just one of too many times; I can say, though, that I have always given in good faith in order to help someone whom I really believed to be in need; believing that God knew my heart and motives and that if the recipient of the charity given in Christ’s name was a fraud, he or she would have to deal with that before a holy God.  He keeps the score and will adjust the accounts in His time and for His own glory.  It is still more blessed to give than to receive!

“As we have, therefore, opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:10)

One thought on “Charity to the Brethren and to Strangers

  1. “Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott, 1808) We share your angst, your stories, and your disappointments in such characters!! The Scriptures have it exactly right that the BLESSING of giving FAR outweighs the “joy” of being on the receiving end, as missionaries so often are!

    Steve Anderson

    Like

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