Sunday, February 17, 2019

Believing vs. Begging

Back in 2008, my then-roommate and I took a road trip to attend revival meetings in Lakeland, Florida. When a friend found out about it, he sent me an irate email because I didn’t ask him to go with us. His anger was unwarranted for I had no idea he wanted to go to Lakeland. He also didn’t consider the possibility of there not being enough room in the car for him and his luggage. On top of that, this man was unemployed and probably lacked the money to cover his food and lodging. I pointed these things out to my friend and he apologized. But then he sent another email asking me to pray that someone would take him to Lakeland and pay all his expenses. 

Some Christians who know it’s God’s will for them to prosper still come across as beggars. I’ve had friends send me emails saying they are “believing God” for finances but then ask for money. One of them even accused me of being a moocher. Yet this same person has often solicited donations from me and other people.

Certainly, Christians should have compassion toward brethren who are struggling financially. Jesus exhorts us to have a generous spirit in Matthew 5:42, “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” On the other hand, Proverbs 3:27 in the New Living Translation says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 also says, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” God may not want you enabling someone who is being lazy, mismanages their finances (which includes not tithing) or isn’t being truthful about their needs. I’ve seen Christians hit people up for money for particular purposes but then spend it on something else.

As a missionary, I know it’s tempting to let people know when you are facing a financial challenge. One rule I follow on the mission field is to avoid asking for money. Psalm 37:25 says, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” One of my spiritual heroes is George Müller. This 19th-century evangelist operated orphanages in England totally by faith. He only accepted unsolicited freewill offerings.  

I’m not saying it’s wrong for ministers to let people know how they can make a donation if they feel led of the Lord to do so (I do that at the end of my monthly newsletter and on my website). Then again, I know of ministries that prospered without making any financial appeals. Individuals who claim to “live by faith” should take their needs before the Lord and let Him decide whom He wants to use to bless them. Faith doesn’t put pressure on people.

I’ve also taken a similar approach regarding places to stay. Many times people invited me into their homes without me requesting lodging. Occasionally, I felt led to ask for accommodations but usually at places I stayed at before or was referred to them by somebody else. Jesus even invited Himself to stay at Zacchaeus’ house for He knew the tax collector would receive Him joyfully (Luke 19:5-6). At the same time, it’s best to avoid extended stays in another person’s home unless the Lord gives you favor at a particular place. Proverbs 25:17 says, "Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house, lest he become weary of you and hate you.”

One time the Lord led me to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina for a series of meetings at MorningStar Ministries. I arrived in town with enough money to stay one night at a Motel 6. The next day, a minister I produced an album for offered an advance on royalties, allowing me to stay at Motel 6 for another night. This minister also arranged for me to spend the following night at the Heritage Grand Hotel on the MorningStar grounds. The morning after, I had to check out at that hotel since I didn’t have enough money to continue staying there. I hung around the lobby working on my laptop and later went to the evening service while trusting God for a place to stay. I was determined to let Him provide without asking anyone for help. 

The hotel staff graciously kept my luggage behind their counter until something opened up for me. By 12:00 midnight, almost everyone had left the sanctuary area and I still didn’t have a place to stay. I felt a need to inform the hotel staff of my situation. They thanked me for doing so and said I could continue hanging around the lobby area but wasn’t allowed to sleep. So I resumed work on my laptop. 

Finally, at 2 a.m., a woman struck up a conversation with me. She soon recognized me as one of her Facebook friends. I didn’t say anything about a need for lodging until she asked where I was staying. My friend then called a friend of hers who let me stay in one of the cabins right across the street from MorningStar! To my surprise, my host later gave me $25 for food. My Facebook friend also bought two CDs from me.

Are you facing a need in your life? I encourage you not to be a beggar but a believer in Jehovah Jireh.

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:19

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