Bible with Cross ShadowGive to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. Matthew 5:42

Honestly, I have had more questions than answers about this verse. Does this include every person on every corner that is holding up a “please help” sign? What about the professional panhandlers I come across in downtown Atlanta? What if they are going to use it for drugs or some other addiction?

Do I donate every time every organization sends a request? Does this include candidates for political office, or just people in need? What if I run out of money; won’t I become a part of the problem? Is there not some other way to understand this saying of Jesus Christ? Did He really mean what He is saying here?

I have an opinion about the meaning of this saying; but does my opinion matter? Perhaps more important is what all these questions reveal. Am I looking for understanding; or for an excuse to move this verse to the “consider later” basket; and move on to something else?

It seems this verse is pivotal in our discussion and obedience to “these sayings of mine” in the Sermon on the Mount and beyond. There is this option of moving on to “easier” sayings, but if we start now, I guarantee most of the rest will go in the same direction; and habits are hard to break. Perhaps now is the time to face our fears and deal with the reality of our commitment to faith and obedience.

Have you ever noticed how our minds gravitate quickly to the extreme consequence when we are threatened with certain truths, sayings and commands? In this case, it is next to impossible to stop from thinking about poverty and homelessness. Our emotions follow, amplifying our thoughts with fears of foolishness and embarrassment.

There is revelation in such moments. Most obviously, they reveal the area where we are holding on to our own kingdom. Second, they reveal our lack of faith in God for our future security. Third, and most sobering, they challenge our claim of unconditional and sacrificial love for Jesus Christ (John 14:21).

Consequently, our extreme responses reveal areas of our lives that God has judged and identified for our repentance. Now is a good time to remember:

 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Nothing is impossible with God; even changing the hearts and minds of those that are stubbornly self-protective. I believe the beginning for every lover of Jesus Christ is the discovery of their heart’s desire for faith and obedience. Our transformation begins with a prayer like this:

Father God, I confess my unbelief and disobedience. Thank You for challenging me in this area of my life. I know You love me, and have a plan for me and those I love. I know You are trustworthy. I need Your help. Reveal and encourage me in the desire of my heart for faith and obedience to this command. Replace my fear of the consequences with the fear of not allowing You to do this work in me. I surrender to that work; in Jesus’ name. Amen

God rewards our surrender by giving us the desire of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). The process has begun. May He bless you (and me) with the wisdom and courage to pursue it to the end.

Humbly yours and forever His,