This question is related to the complexities of life. I do not have access to all the necessary information, yet I am called to love well anyway. Therefore we must learn to discern, and good discernment requires relationship. I cannot love well, unless I first know my neighbor.
In learning to discern, we must first remember that our greatest need is relationship. We need each other. I need my neighbor as much as she needs me. Without a good relationship, it is difficult to make the best care choices. So we must be content with establishing relationship before any material goods can be exchanged.
And this is true for all situations.
One of the reasons (and there are many) I do not give to the homeless person standing on the freeway with a sign is because I do not know him. In order to really care for him, I need to know him. And whether he knows it or not, in order for him to receive from me, he needs to know me too.
Unfortunately I do not take the time to get to know him, and one of the reasons is because the street corner near a busy freeway is a less than ideal place to establish a relationship. It would be better done in a coffee shop, or a local restaurant over a meal. But when you do not know someone, it is difficult to even take that first step.
So what should we do?
Ultimately, I cannot meet every one of my neighbor's needs, especially for all those who are called my neighbor. Therefore, my responsibility is to first get to know my neighbor; those God has placed around me. In relationship, I fulfill her greatest need and she meets mine. Over time the relationship can grow to include meeting other needs, but it must always begin with a relationship.
Derek Webb wrote a song called "Rich Young Ruler" where he states the following,
poverty is so hard to see
when it's only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we're all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus' neighborhood
where he's hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can't give me (http://www.lyricsmania.com/rich_young_ruler_lyrics_derek_webb.html)
"More than just your cash and coin, I want your time, I want your voice,
I want the things you just can't give me."
Offering ourselves to another is the greatest gift we can give, and receiving others as gifts in and of themselves is the greatest gift we can receive. We were not made to live alone, we were made for God and we were made for each other.
So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? I invite you to share your thoughts as well as we journey together along the Way ...