This is a hard post to write because it is about NOT helping the needy. It’s important to be confident and know why you are giving. You’ve heard it said, in the affairs of this world to be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. This is to protect your vested interests so that you remain in a position to help others instead of becoming a victim yourself during hard times! Being wise as a serpent is also a means of being responsible in your giving considering the things you have as gifts that God has entrusted to you. The responsible thing to do with these “gifts” is to help those truly in need at the right time and not in a haphazard fashion.
The truth is that the resources and gifts God gives us are not to go to every needy person in every single case. This would leave out the question of God’s will (for those who pray). Is God asking you to give at a certain time? How about helping out a person that is unrepentant and is going through hard times due to their own life choices? You would not want to give cash to a homeless drunk asking for money who will just take the cash and walk over and buy alcohol, but would give him a hot lunch. Scams have been perpetrated on unsuspecting seniors with calls from someone impersonating being their grandchild asking for money. There are other times when someone is not being completely honest or sincere in their “need” and they are just trying to take advantage of you.
By observing circumstances and listening to your spirit you can discern when a person is in a “lifestyle” of taking continually and exercising poor judgment causing their hard times. This is NOT the same as someone in distress as they navigate around life’s problems and slowly improve their life’s situation. So, if you want to help someone out with your limited resources how do you know who to help? If you indiscriminately help anyone, every time then when it comes time to help that true widow, hungry child or repentant drug addict you will have to turn them away because you will have spent your resources on someone else. This is why you should not help the needy every time but at the right time, notwithstanding that God can direct you to help them regardless of their poor life choices in special cases. (You may feel it’s time to help a person even if they are trying to deceive you because there is always hope for change.) But wisdom, common sense and even scriptures (1st John and Peter) say to avoid some so called “brethren” in certain circumstances when they live a destructive life by choice. Still, you need to have pity on them because what these people have feared has come upon them – the destruction that follows an unrepentant life! It’s really sad when a person’s sins find them out and you have to see someone suffer the consequences. But, there is always time to repent and be restored and we must be ready to help them then.
You can be confident in refusing to help someone and not be intimidated when others accuse you of being cruel or “un-Christian”. This will require you to make an assessment and choose whether or not to help a “needy” person; and in making an assessment you may be accused of the sin of “judging”, but all you are doing is “exercising discretion”. God wants you to be a “fruit inspector” to discern God’s will for your life. This is your duty. One source to help decide when to help someone is explained in Proverbs 3 which describes helping the needy who really “deserve” it and not helping mindless users who choose a pattern of self-focused living, lacking discretion, gravitating toward abuse of drugs, etc. (reinterpreted for modern times). When an unrepentant person is looking for a handout because they are experiencing hard times due to reaping what they’ve sowed, they are actually attempting to steal from God. If you turn them away, they will get angry with you and could even threaten extortion (drag your name through the mud) if you don’t give, give, give. But your confidence will come from knowing that your resources (given you by God) are being saved to go to someone truly in need. The decision to help or not comes down to your own discernment of whether or not someone is “worthy” of your help. On the other hand, you may not necessarily be dealing with a decision to help an individual but are just interested in giving to groups and casting your net wide with general supplies to any and all which can be great. (This article is more about helping out individually.)
So, the important skill to learn is to discern between the truly needy and those playing the “taking game”. Be prepared to ignore criticism when you don’t help these people. If you’re sure in your decision to reserve your resources to help someone else at another time, then you have to view the critics as just ignorant and need to be patient with them. We have to remember that prayer changes things and obedience to God is the responsibility of a true disciple of Christ, and we don’t need to help the needy every time if we are ready to help the needy at the right time.