John, the disciple writes:
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1Jn 3:17 NIV)
Does that mean if I have money in my pocket I am obliged to help another believer financially? Are there no boundaries? No other guidelines?
Although the natural tendency is to keep our stuff for ourselves (thus this encouragement to move beyond that), to decide we are obliged to give money to address any and all needs would be going to far.
John’s rhetorical question implies that using our material possessions to meet this need is a valid expression of God’s love. The Father’s love does not give us things that are not good for us, nor does His love help the recipient to be irresponsible. These are great guidelines for us to have in mind when we are considering helping another believer! First ask: Is the “need” legitimate? Is my assistance true help?
What other guidelines would you suggest?
Personally, I think it would be more of how the heart of the person extending help looks at the need of another believer. I won’t personally create guidelines I will follow to extend help. If I “sensed” a need where I am able to help, I will extend help. I live by what Matthew 6: 2 – 4 says (not exactly but related meaning) and that whenever I have the opportunity to help, I try not to remember such action. That helped me avoid justifying to myself if what I did was correct, if it was worth it, if the recipient really deserved it or if the need is legitimate. There may be instances when the need was not really legitimate, or instances when I think I should haven’t done it, but I barely checked on that after extending help. After all, I am doing it for God and not for men. I don’t mean I am helping without thinking, I mean I just help when I have the opportunity to do so.