To Give or Not To Give

And he answered them,
“Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none,
and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
Luke 3:11

My own response to those who need has changed over the years.  When we didn’t have much and were raising three children, the first question was whether we could feed, house, and care for our children. We were always able to do that, but we didn’t always know that we would be able to do that. After that: would the money I did have to give be used well?  I still ask that of an organization that wants my money. They need to show me that most of my money–almost all of my money–will reach those for whom it is intended.

Here’s what’s changed.  These days when I meet someone begging for help, if I have money in my wallet, I give it to them.  Period.  I used to think that I needed to decide if they would use it well.  I don’t have that kind of power.  I do have the power of two things:  giving and honoring human dignity.  Beyond that, I am not responsible for what becomes of money I freely choose to give.

Two tunics.  Food.  Cash in my wallet.  Share.  Jesus said.

Bob Patrick



Disdain for the weak is anti-Christ

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

There are several indicators of practical wisdom in this one verse from the Book of the Acts.

  1. Helping the weak is something that we learn to do and fashion together as community.  It’s not just individual choice.  Christian community first shaped itself to be in the world–helping the weak. That is revolutionary and prophetic to American culture where we shame, deplore, castigate, blame and despise anyone who appears to be weak in any way.
  2. Community shaping itself to help the weak is the living memory of Jesus.  A direct claim.  We take this posture toward the weak as a direct extension of Jesus himself.  Disdain for the weak is anti-Christ.
  3. The terms are simple.  Giving is better than receiving. No conditions like: as long as I like the people I give to; they aren’t lazy;  they are “our kind;”  I know they will appreciate what I give.

Help the weak.  Giving is good.

Bob Patrick