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  #1  
Unread 25th February 2012, 10:48 PM
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Christian charity: I know it's required but to what extent?

I hate it when I struggle and struggle, finally acquire something nice to show for it, and no time at all passes before someone wants to borrow it. Never fails. If I say yes, either I don't get it back, or I get it back damaged. If I say no, I'm treated like a selfish child who doesn't want to share his toys. It's not that I'm greedy or materialistic, but dang, am I *never* allowed to have anything nice for myself?

At one time I was a resident in a year-long life skills program run by a homeless shelter. Most residents of the program were recovering from drug, alcohol, or mental health issues. (The rest had the issues, but were not recovering. They were only there for the three-hots-and-a-cot, not trying to better themselves.) Any time I was seen wearing a particularly beautiful article of clothing, invariably someone would tell me, "Uh-uh, girl. You go upstairs, take off MY dress, and give it back to me. That is MINE." It was a joke, basically shelter speak for, "Hey, I like that dress." But after a while, hearing this every single time I had on something pretty, I started thinking, "Why doesn't anyone want ME to have anything nice?" My daughter, who works with street kids, tells me that the code on the street is, "Hey, we're all in the same boat, so if anybody acquires something of any value, it has to be shared among all of us. You can't keep it for just yourself." If you obtain money, they are entitled to a slice of it. If you have good clothes, they are entitled to borrow it. They are NOT obligated to return it in a timely manner, in the same condition you loaned it to them. Sometimes they are not obligated to return it at all, because you have more than they do, and everything has to be even. Oh, and when YOU want to borrow something, "Sorry, I'm in therapy working on the ability to say No, and I've got to practice it. So no."

And I guess it's that entitlement that really irks me. For the first four decades of my life I had nothing. Now, what I have, everyone wants to take from me, and I'm getting sick of it. Yet Jesus said to give to anyone who asks, without expecting to be paid back. Does He really intend for us to sit there in silence and allow ourselves to be taken advantage of?
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  #2  
Unread 25th February 2012, 11:02 PM
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sounds like somebody's got a case of the mondays

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I think what you're facing is the sense of entitlement (mixed with the growing popularity of socialism) that our culture is engulfed in. Yes, we as believers are to be charitable (even to the point of serious sacrifice at times), but it's not about owing other people because we have more than they do. When we look at the early church at the beginning of Acts, people gave to one another (in the church family) freely as needed. There was no required distribution. People gave as they were led. The world loves to warp that into all sorts of ugly guilt trips.
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  #3  
Unread 25th February 2012, 11:16 PM
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True. The reason Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead wasn't because they held money back. It was because they lied about it. Their crime was hypocrisy, not greed. Peter told them, it was their land to sell as they wished, and the money they got from it was also theirs. They weren't under any obligation.
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  #4  
Unread 25th February 2012, 11:51 PM
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When teaching in poor areas, it’s best not to wear your finest clothes. For one, you may get mugged, lol’s but seriously… and it makes people less fortunate feel bad about themselves… we all want to look attractive… but we are there to show the beauty of Christ… and if our material possessions make them focus on us, it can take their focus off Christ… as to people wanting what you have, a dress is a dress… if someone needs it, I would gladly give them mine… but to give it just because someone likes it, is a different thing…. when I give I do try to give to those who actually need… what is the point in giving a beautiful dress to someone who has a dress, when you could just as easily given it to someone who needed it. Someone who needs it won’t even care what it looks like, as long as it fits and covers them.
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  #5  
Unread 26th February 2012, 12:39 AM
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Where did "teaching in poor areas" come into the picture? I'm not talking about being rich and strutting my stuff in front of the poor people. I'm talking about being poor, finally clawing my way out of that situation, obtaining *something,* anything at all, and then someone wants it off of me. I'm not allowed to have it. You'll note, I was a RESIDENT of that program. I was not on staff. I was in the same boat with the others.

Are you saying that I should give people my clothes, just because they want them, or else I'm not Christian?

It's not about taking the focus off Christ, at least not in my case. I'm not going in with a "look at me" attitude. It doesn't even have to be a "fancy" dress. It could be merely unripped, unstained, made from a quality fabric, or whatever, but it's better than they have, so that makes me "rich" in their eyes. And since I have it, and they don't, they're entitled to it.
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Last edited by LovebirdsFlying; 26th February 2012 at 01:02 AM.
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  #6  
Unread 26th February 2012, 01:07 AM
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I'm not sure I understand your situation. Where do these "everyone else" people come from? I don't think you need to make yourself available to people of disadvantage but instead you can give freely to the shelter as The Lord leads. Don't let people guilt you into giving to them. That is between you and God and God deals with each individual in a different manner. To some he blesses with a lot of things and money. Many of those people give a lot back but still live a good lifestyle. To others God gives just enough for the basic necessities. Many of these people give until it hurts but God blesses them because they give freely and without requirements. Listen to your heart and to The Holy Spirit and give with a joyous heart. Don't be ashamed of having some nice things. God blesses us with nice things but He also blesses us in so many other ways when we are obedient to His Spirit.
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  #7  
Unread 26th February 2012, 01:39 AM
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Distancing myself from those who expect me to give, to protect myself from their guilt trips? Is that your advice? Thank you. Good idea. Unfortunately, some of these are members of my own family. There are those who feel, as long as I have any food in my refrigerator, it's OK for them to come in and help themselves to it without even asking, because "family members take certain liberties with each other." Those were my mother's words. Anything I acquire, I am expected to share equally among the family until everyone has the same amount--which ends up being nothing. That's the crab-bucket syndrome in action. "If I don't have it, you can't have it either. If I'm poor, you have to stay poor too, or else you're getting all uppity on us and forgetting where you came from."

My daughter tried opening her home to a person who had grown up on the streets, hoping to give that young man a launching pad so he could get out of his situation; the result was, he is now being legally evicted because all he's done is take advantage. If my husband and I allowed him in our home, property would be damaged and money would end up missing. It has happened. That's why we have had to make it plain that he's not welcome here. He is a prime example of someone who feels entitled to whatever someone else has, and has no intention of ever working or providing for himself. Not as long as he can steal or con someone else out of it. But--I have such a nice house. I am OBLIGATED to share with the less fortunate, or else what kind of Christian am I?
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  #8  
Unread 26th February 2012, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by LovebirdsFlying View Post
Where did "teaching in poor areas" come into the picture? I'm not talking about being rich and strutting my stuff in front of the poor people. I'm talking about being poor, finally clawing my way out of that situation, obtaining *something,* anything at all, and then someone wants it off of me. I'm not allowed to have it. You'll note, I was a RESIDENT of that program. I was not on staff. I was in the same boat with the others.

Are you saying that I should give people my clothes, just because they want them, or else I'm not Christian?

It's not about taking the focus off Christ, at least not in my case. I'm not going in with a "look at me" attitude. It doesn't even have to be a "fancy" dress. It could be merely unripped, unstained, made from a quality fabric, or whatever, but it's better than they have, so that makes me "rich" in their eyes. And since I have it, and they don't, they're entitled to it.
I was relating your working at a homeless shelter to my experience of teaching in poor areas… sorry I didn’t realize you were a resident… Like I said, why would we give to people because they want what we have, when there are people who actually need what we have… there is a difference. If we see someone in need and we can help, but don’t, it is sin… because that is not loving our neighbor…
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  #9  
Unread 26th February 2012, 02:27 AM
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Hi, Linda. We're good now. I think we came to an understanding.

Does anyone make a distinction between those who, like most of the residents at that shelter program, are trying to better themselves and recover, versus people like the much smaller group (and my daughter's housemate) who were there only for the free food and bed? I do believe we should help those in need. But what about those who merely won't help themselves, as opposed to can't help themselves? Sometimes we can't tell the difference. But when we can? After we've been burned a few times? Should we go on being charitable? Where does Matthew 5:42 come up against 2 Thessalonians 3:10?
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  #10  
Unread 26th February 2012, 04:27 AM
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Addendum: Daughter has this to say about the code of the streets: The ones known as gangbangers will resort to theft and/or violence to get what they want. They will come right out and take it, mug you for it, hurt you for it if they want it bad enough. They believe the only way they're ever going to have anything is to take it from others by force. (Apparently working doesn't enter their minds?) Other street kids simply assume they are entitled, and wonder why you won't just fork it over automatically. They don't steal it from you or hurt you over it, but they will resent your not sharing with them. They believe it is a given, anyone who has more should give to those who have less, until all have equal amounts, no matter who actually worked and earned it.

When they "borrow" something from you, and they give it back damaged or not at all, their thinking is like this: In the case of something that was given to you charitably, then you got it for free. If they then take it from you or damage it, so what? You aren't out any money. Why are you making such a big deal about it? It's not like it cost you anything. Unless it is something you bought with your own money. In that case, the fact that you can buy something nice only shows that you have more than they do, and therefore you are obligated to share, and share alike. In either scenario, it's all about "Waaaah, feel sorry for me because I'm poor."

Sorry about the obsession on my part. I'm about sick of dealing with this, and also seeing my daughter's generosity backfire on her.
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Last edited by LovebirdsFlying; 26th February 2012 at 04:35 AM.
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