Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Matthew 25 told us to take in the stranger (like the homeless), visit the sick and those who are in prison, and all those commandments. Doesn't that mean that we should take in people who are asking for our help, or people who got in trouble with the law due to their circumstances? At the same time, we don't know if these homeless people are killers or adulterous! So we might be testing God and falling in sin or may even get harmed? So, there must be a balance. I am in a situation where I don't know what to do and I do not want to hear Matthew 25 on Judgment Day.

Kindness and acts of mercy are important features of Christianity. Additionally, so are wisdom and boundaries. When assessing the case of an individual in need, the solution does not have to be you, per se. You may help that person to find a solution. You may also direct people in need to various resources, but you must remember that you are not their savior, nor the only one who can help them. Knowing and accepting your own capabilities and performing your service within the parameters set by your spiritual father and in agreement with your own family are good indicators of how far your benevolence can extend without intruding on others or rendering yourself totally overwhelmed, vulnerable, or riddled with guilt by taking on too much. It is important to empower the individual in need to become more proactive in seeking solutions, and to bring the individual to the knowledge that the permanence of any solution must include Christ Jesus.

We learn from the apostles that they empowered rather than enabled. Sometimes, doing too much for others, actually teaches negative and undesirable behaviors such as becoming lazy, dependent, and greedy. Yes, you can be a joyful giver, but first take a few moments to pray that God may help you to discern for what is really sought by this person. Is it hot coffee, or warm eyes from a kind soul; is it money, or is it a caring smile that is needed from you; etc.? Give them the best of what you have, which is above all and endures all, that is, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.' And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:6-8).

What is evident in the above mentioned passage of the Holy Scripture is that each of the participants in this scenario contributed something. The apostles did not merely just take the beggar into their homes, take care of his medical needs, or support him financially. Yet, they also did not refuse nor neglect him. With wisdom, the apostles gave the beggar an opportunity to know the power of God. This can be in speech or in deed. The beggar's proactive response was his contribution in this equation. His response began by believing, and thus, experiencing the power and the glory of God. Was this enough for him? Apparently not, for he continued with leaping, standing, walking, worshiping, and praising God. Now, it is apparent that the apostles have taught him an important lesson, one in which he can continue, remember, and use whenever he is faced with hardships in the future. Although, the apostles temporarily held his hands, when they let go, he was able to stand on His own and give glory and praise to God.
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