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I would characterize the issue as “How can I best help this person?” If the person has a history of falling into need because of his bad judgment, perhaps his biggest need is to be steered away from the ease of making bad judgments. Tough love might be the appropriate remedy. Helping out with what appears to be a person's most immediate need may in fact be nothing more than facilitating bad habits.

In evaluating this approach, I’m tempted to say to myself that I’m only justifying my natural desire to avoid the effort of helping others. It’s certainly true that tough love in many situations would be more convenient than providing material assistance. On the other hand, I don’t want to choose a response simply because it’s the one that inconveniences me the most (and makes me look like a martyr). To my mind the decision to be made is what’s the best thing I’m able to do for this person at the moment. And in some cases the best response might be not to provide an easy handout.


Always give. It is good for us to develop or increase a generous spirit. What is given & of what quality or amount can be adjusted, based on our evaluation of the recipients' response to OUR generosity. Never mind their history,


Someone once said be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. That comes real close in Matthew to the warnings to fear those who can kill the soul. It seems it would be better for us to be innocent in these cases and live the life of charity. If the charity is spent wrong it does not reflect on the giver. The wisdom, and the tougher part of that charity, might be when we are asked to give more than a 5-spot and build up the person. Do we have that ability in the charity before us, or is the best we can do money and a prayer? That determination takes wisdom.

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