Like I mentioned yesterday, I was able to spend some real quality time with some great friends over the weekend. It was during this time, a conversation came up about being an enabler. Being around a church, one often gets to see or hear about people coming to the church asking for money. A lot of churches have benevolence funds, but when that money runs out many churches are forced to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” While I hope to never be in that situation, because I know it is a hard place to be in, I wonder if there isn’t a bigger issue that needs to be dealt with.
I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time now. I know God has called us to help those in need and has asked us to love our neighbors, but what if we have created a society where people just expect help and refuse to work or try to work?
I don’t want to get political by any means, but it has been a point of conflict the last couple years. Many more people are LIVING off welfare and not even trying to get a job. Personally, I don’t believe welfare is entirely wrong. I think helping people is good, but what happens when the system is broken and no relationships are formed?
I think that is where we are today. So many people get assistance and abuse the system. In reality the church (not a specific church, but God’s church) should be the one handing out the help. The body of Christ should be developing relationships so they know when someone is in need.
So my real question for today is have we become enablers or are we still helping people? How do you know the difference?
I have been looking through my bible trying to come up with some answers. So far, this is what I have come up with.
In Luke 15:16 (in the middle of the prodigal son story) it says “…and no one was giving anything to him.” I take this as God allowing him to come to a place where he realized he couldn’t do it on his own. He realized he had to make better decisions if his life was ever going to get any better. He couldn’t go on living the same lifestyle he wanted, but had to repent and go back to his father.
In many places it speaks of reaping what we sow and so I wonder if the truth that comes out of those passages speaks to people needing to reap what they sow unless that turn and repent. From everything I can find, when Christ died for us, He reaped what we had sown. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to deal with the immediate consequences, but ultimately the end consequence is that He took what should have been ours. I think the adverse is also true. If we don’t repent we need to reap what we sow, that is one of the only things that will bring us back to God.
In 1 Timothy 5:8 it says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” As it goes on, it speaks of helping those in need, but only if they have proven that they are trying and not just sitting idle, waiting on others to help them. I think there are so many people now in our world that do this. They feel entitled. They believe that others need to help them and just because life isn’t working out or going the way they want it to, it is someone elses’ fault and so someone needs to help them.
The real reason I write today is because I sometimes struggle with knowing when to help people and when to let them fall. I don’t want to be the one who is enabling them to stay the same and not grow. I don’t even know what to say to someone who is in that situation. I see what God does in my life when I become broken or fall and while it’s not fun or enjoyable, it’s God’s way of teaching me. It is a way of getting me to turn back to him.
I guess for me I just need to pray for discernment and the words to say to someone, if I am to speak. Then follow through with whatever God has given me to do.
I guess I am left with one last question. How do you talk to someone who has become an enabler?
On a side note, I do want to mention that I do believe giving someone an initial hand up is of God. I think it is after that initial hand is when we have to be careful as to if we are becoming enabling or if we are actually helping the situation.
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV