Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV
Kind: Of a good or benevolent (intended for benefits rather than profit) nature or disposition. Having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence. Indulgent, considerate or helpful; humane. Mild, gentle.
Compassion: A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
What about those who prey on the kind and compassionate? Where do we draw the line between helping someone and allowing someone to take advantage? The Bible gives us some guidelines. Honestly, this is an area where I have struggled. I am learning that it is to our benefit to truly embody God’s Word. It keeps us from going too far in either direction. Boundaries keep us safe. Acting out of God’s love (not earthly love) keeps our motivations dialed into His Will and discernment, keeping our hearts pliable but not vulnerable. Shrewd as a snake. Gentle as a dove.
#1: We are to give to everyone who asks of you and not demand it back. But what does that mean?
In Luke, it not only says give when you are asked, but it also says to give to your enemies and do good to them — just as our Father gives to us. God has compassion on all, both the good and the wicked. We are to be merciful like Him.
#2: We are also to have wise discernment. There are standards to apply for giving our time and money. What are these standards?
- Never give to the point of being detrimental. Do not enable others.
- Be a good steward. Use what God gives us wisely. There are things that need to be considered prior to giving to others. This includes:
- Giving back to the Lord His portion
- Provide for the needs of our families
- Pay our obligations
- Our time should be balanced between worship, work and family
- Seek God. Make all things a matter of prayer. Ask for wisdom to discern between a need and a distraction.
As I said before, this has been a tough area for me. I have had a tendency to over-give on many occasions, venturing into enabling. This has not just been financial, but especially with time and attention. Learning to set boundaries has been extremely helpful. I do it much less frequently now. My own personal healing has helped me learn to let go of caretaking as a means of addressing my own insecurities in an unhealthy manner. There is so much freedom on the other side of that!
Each day is a new day. Walking in our Father’s love, making a decision to love others like He loves us, is not the burden you might think. God does not push Himself on us. He’s not hovering. He gives us room to choose. He waits for our hearts to long to be next to His. The more intimate our love becomes, the more of a desire we have to demonstrate our love to Him through time, obedience and service. It all comes out of love…making it easier to be kind and compassionate – in a healthy way. Giving others the room to make their own decisions and find their own way.