Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Rev. Matt Harrison, Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, has started a blog. Check it for good quotes and stories of relief that is being done around the world. Matt is a big proponent of the role of showing mercy in the pastoral office. I do not disagree.
However, I have found it is not as simple as that. For the line of those who would take advantage of mercy is long and filled with all sorts of people. How does a pastor decide who to help with the limited resources we have? Are some needs greater than others? More important? Is it first come, first served, and when the money runs out, that's it? How do we know when a shyster is asking for what he does not really need? I wrestle with these questions a lot. I want to help folks who ask for help, but I find myself growing more cynical - especially when I am taken advantage of. Often times when I help one person, word spreads quickly and I get a bunch of phone calls at once, making me suspicious whether these folks really need help or not.
It happened again last week. I believed someone who said they needed help, but I have come to the conclusion that I was suckered. Do I stop helping people? No, I cannot do that. Am I angry? Probably a little. Those funds could have helped someone who really needed help. But I find myself praying that this person - though I believe he was dishonest with me - needed this money and that God will use this for good somehow.
But you know, we do it too, don't we? We take the good and gracious gifts of God and abuse them. We often ask for what we do not really need. We don't deprive others, for God's resources are unlimited, but I should not be so quick to condemn what I see also in myself. And so I'll work at that plank in my own eye, pray for mercy for them, and for forgiveness for myself. And I'll keep helping folks, for we have been so richly blessed . . . and I know will be in the future.