Question:

I read your article on giving. Someone asked and you gave a lot of discussion around widows and orphans and want versus need.

I have family members who look for ways not to work but continually seek help from us. My nephew and his wife do not go to church. My nephew was raised in the church, but his wife does not believe in God. He doesn't want to work. She works and feels that entitles her to spend as she wants. She spends money on non-essentials like cigarettes and alcohol, while wanting help and neglecting the needs of her children. When they get money they do not repay others or set aside for future but go on a spending spree. They borrowed from their grandmother, who is on a fixed income. Even though she told them it was a loan and needed it back, they just received a tax refund and took a weekend vacation without repaying her. Later they will ask for money to pay their bills.

I am retired, caring for my disabled husband, but I am relying on savings to live and pay for his medical bills that Medicare will not because I cannot yet draw Social Security myself. I try to help folks in and out of the church and in and out of the family; however, that is not always financial. We are soon going to have to sell our house to make it until I can draw Social Security. I know that as soon as we do, they will think I am rich and can help. The reason we are selling is to afford my staying home to care for my husband and buy my insurance. We will also have to use these funds to pay rent.

What do I do? I feel like we keep enabling them not to do what they can do for themselves, but is that a worldly view and not a Christian's view? Also, you mentioned taking care of the immediate need and helping them prevent it from happening again, but they refuse this help and do not want to change.


Answer:

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (II Thessalonians 3:6-15).

While some of your family members are not living the Christian life, the guidelines set out by Paul still show the proper treatment of those who live a disorderly life, not earning their own support. "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (I Timothy 5:8). Your nephew and his wife are not learning to be self-sufficient when they can sponge off of other members.

There is no reason anyone needs to know that you've sold your house, other than your change of address. They don't need to know how much you made from the sale of the house. Decline all questions about these matters.

When they ask for money, just answer that this is what work is for. I know it is hard to tell someone "no," when you want to be helpful, but giving money is not helpful. Let your entire family know your stance and why you are no longer going to help them to be bums. Hopefully that will give the rest the encouragement to also tell them "no."

Thank you. We had helped them once pay for their bankruptcy and repair their car, so she could get to work because they seemed sincere in changing. Instead, as soon as they got their bankruptcy papers, they got their parents to co-sign for a used vehicle and let the other car go back to the creditors while we were still paying their repair bill. We would have liked the opportunity sell it and recover our money but didn't get the chance.

We gave them food rather than money for food because that we felt like was actually helpful for their family. We didn't take them shopping but raided our pantry and freezer, but they seemed disappointed.

Thank you for affirming what I believed to be the way to handle this problem. God bless you in your ministry.