I just don’t know how to tell you this… But my hard drive is fried. *sigh* And so I believe it’s just an answer to prayer that when I got to the office this morning and got online to check my email, there was a guest post in my inbox from my sweet friend, Ginny. If you don’t know her, make sure you drop by her site, Make a Difference to One, and say Hi. In the meantime, enjoy this post from her. (And hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll have my hard drive replaced.) Here’s Ginny:
One of my daughter’s favorite movies is Ella Enchanted. It’s a Cinderella meets sleeping beauty-type story about a girl who is enchanted with a gift by a fairy after she is born. Ella, played by , is given the “gift” of obedience. She has to do whatever she is told. Afraid for Ella’s future, her mother tells Ella to never tell anyone that she has this gift. And of course, Ella has to obey.
At some point, as you can probably guess, there are a few people who figure out her “secret” and take terrible advantage of her. They force her to stay silent, give away things that are important to her, steal, and attempt to take the life of the prince. And she is not allowed to tell anyone about it. In the end, Ella finds it within her to break the enchantment and she is free from the bondage of having to obey everything she is told.
As we grow up, one of the many things we are taught about is obedience. It’s one of the Ten Commandments to “honor your father and mother” which obviously includes obeying. That’s re-emphasized by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians Chapter 6:1-4, that it’s the commandment with a promise. As employees and citizens of the state, we are also called to “respect and obey our leaders.” Those in the military know all about following orders. In a lot of situations, people who don’t follow orders… die.
In the best of situations, we do what our parents tell us to do because we love them and because we have a healthy fear of them. We do what we are expected to do at work because we respect those who hired us. We follow the laws of our town and country because we all desire a safe and secure way of living.
In a Utopian society, if everyone did the right thing all the time, and never did anything to harm another person, obeying rules and authority would never be an issue. No one would question anyone’s motives, and no one would be in need. But, as Margaret Thatcher is credited with saying, “The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Unfortunately, there is no such society on this side of heaven. And even though we want to be able to trust those around us, we are called to “be on the alert.” We need to help those around us who are in need, but in my opinion, we also need to be wise with what has been given to us.
To my knowledge, there is no place where God actually states, “don’t let people take advantage of you.” It would really be helpful, I think, to have more instruction from Him on this issue. He talks a lot about turning the other cheek, and forgiving people 70 times seven times, but at what point has it gone too far?
Let’s take these two verses:
“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” (Proverbs 11:24)
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
We are told not only to give and give cheerfully, but we are also told to plan it out.
I believe it when we are told, “To whom much is given, much will be expected.” I believe that when we have something that can help someone else, we need to give it to them. But I believe that God wants us to be wise with what we have been given. It’s one of the main reasons charitable organizations have rules about where their money will go and when.
“Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”
If you are sacrificing too much, and the person you are helping is not growing from the situation, I believe that it is not healthy for either one of you.
I discussed what I did in a situation when I had a friend who was trying to get her life together HERE. She had suffered from years of addictions and making terrible choices. This is the reality for so many people in our country today. I believe in second chances, but only if you are truly growing from the experiences. For example, if you had parents who were totally screwed up and didn’t take good care of you and get you on a good path from the beginning, or even if you had good parents and somehow still lost your way, I believe it is the responsibility of those who are doing well to help you find your way.
I once heard someone tell a story about how they handle giving money to homeless people that has stuck in my memory. Someone had questioned why this person would ever give money to someone begging for money on the street. Stating the fair argument, “How do you know what they’ll do with it?” Their response was, “The money isn’t mine. I earned it, but it is God’s money and if I feel led to give it to someone with a can and a piece of cardboard begging for a dollar, I’m going to do it regardless of what he may do with it. Because after it leaves my hand and is in his, what he does with the money is between him and God. I have done what I was called to do. I give out of love in the hopes it will lead them in a better direction, maybe to God himself. You never know.”
We can do the best we can to be wise with what we’ve been given, to give till we have nothing left to help someone who has nothing. But regardless of what we do, we have to remember that the money is God’s. And we must not only listen to what he will call us to do with it, we must also plan ahead and ask what we should do with it.