In all my years of ministry I only remember one person coming to the church seeking help who offered to do work to earn the money. It can be very frustrating to see person after person who claims to be in dire need of financial help and wonder if they are genuine in their requests. And often those who are truly in need are chronically in need. They require assistance time and time again.
An initial reaction is to put a limit on how much help will be offered. But James has something to say about limiting our mercy. What attitude should we have in our behavior? What awaits those who are not merciful? What is his final comment?
“Mercy triumphs over judgment!” The words may need to ring in our ears and in our hearts as we face the needs of the poor all around us. Is it our place to judge the decisions they have made? Is it our place to judge that they deserve what they have?
According to James, the answer is “no.” We are to be merciful over all things. We should allow mercy to rise in our hearts and guide our responses.
With so much need in the world, with so much poverty, we can feel helpless in changing the world. But we need to put our faith in God and trust that He can use us in His kingdom. We must also recall the mercy He has for us. Perhaps that might guide our judgment.
With all the problems and struggles in the world there are ample places to show mercy and compassion. Let us each prayerfully consider where our hearts are at this time and ask God to lead us in our decisions to help.
While it is not our place to judge our brothers and sisters and the situations they find themselves in, we can use God’s wisdom and our own intellect to put our money and efforts into ministry that has long-lasting impact for the needy. Let your judgment be the judgment of choice, but let it be overshadowed by mercy.
DAILY CHALLENGE: Where and how do you feel called to contribute toward easing the suffering of the poor and needy?