Friday, February 27, 2009

Discernment

This is Prosper. You might remember him from a previous post. He comes to our house every week or two, sometimes just to greet us, sometimes to bring us tomatoes or carrots, and often times he is coming to ask for money. We usually help him out with a small percentage of what he is asking for, which is mainly related to his health because of his age (he is 69, which is VERY old for a Kabiye person). He always thanks me and says, "God bless you", but it's his face right after I hand him a lot less than he asked for that rubs me the wrong way. His face says, "That's it? Are you kidding me?!" just moments before his mouth says "Thank you".

To be honest, my pride despises his reaction. Words like "ungrateful" and "manipulative" often run through my head after interacting with Prosper, but most times my compassion wins over and I receive him again the next time he visits. So my question is (and has always been as I struggle through benevolent giving in this foreign culture), "Where does God given discernment fit into this process?"

April and I could not possibly help every person that comes to our door or stops us on the street. We want to help as many people as we can, but we also don't want to create a group of people who are semi-dependent on our family. We're not going to be here forever. We want to find compassionate ways to help, but also creative ways. Righteous ways, but sustainable ways. Christ like ways, but discerning ways. You get the picture.

If you were reading this post and hoping for an answer to the problem, then I am sorry to disappoint you. It's more of a thought process post, something to spur myself and others on to holy thinking about poverty, our reaction to it, and the discernment that God promises us through the indwelling of His Spirit. Thoughts, comments and advice are definitely welcome!

3 comments:

Miss G said...

These are such hard things. Kelly

Erik said...

Unfortunately, I do not have any advice for you guys. But, all too often I do think those same thoughts of cynicism towards people that God loves just as much as he loves me. It's only when I really start to think about the bigger picture, that I realize that all that I have really belongs to God anyways.

However, once I start down that path, I almost always start second-guessing myself, saying "but I can't give ALL of my belongings away...can I?". Reminded of the rich young ruler, and his struggle to give up his things to follow Jesus, I try not to fall into that same vein. But...for me it isn't so much about my stuff/things/money as it is the manipulation by those spurring on my distrust.

It's hard. There's no doubt about it. I'll be praying for this old guy and for your interactions with him in the future. Pretty cool that his name just so happens to be Prosper!

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