I tend to help people a lot when they are in need. But recently someone told me that I was preventing God's work by helping them. They said I was preventing people from turning to God by helping, or in their words “saving” the person whenever they are in need. How do you know when to help someone and when to leave them alone?
God never asked us to first determine if God is working in a person before we help him or her. We cannot find that concept in the Bible. Instead, God has rebuked us for our cold hearts and unwillingness to help others. God asked us to provide food, clothing, and help when a person needs these things. That is the message in the following verses.
Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” Then they themselves also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You? Then He will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” (NASB) Matthew 25:41-45
The parable of the Good Samaritan points out the truth that few people were willing to help others at the time that Jesus lived (Luke 10:30-35). This is especially true today as people are more and more self-centered and unloving. Jesus predicted that this would occur in the following predictions,
Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. (NASB) Matthew 24:12
Throughout the Bible God encourages us to help the poor, prisoners, widows, and anyone in need. Read the following verses to see what God says,
He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor. (NASB) Prov. 14:21
One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed. (NASB) Prov. 19:17
What is desirable in a man is his kindness . . . (NASB) Prov. 19:22
He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. (NASB) Prov. 28:27
Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. (NASB) Heb. 13:3
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (NASB) James 1:27
This is God’s desire for each one of us. We are to love others – not just ourselves.
Here is a key question to consider. In helping others, are your spouse and children your first priority? Are your parents your second priority? Are other believers your third priority and then everyone else (Gal. 6:10)? In your helping others, do not forget these priorities.
Also, be careful not to indiscriminately give money or help to total strangers when you cannot determine if there is a real need and how they will use the help or if the help is really needed. Often times money is handed over to strangers soliciting funds on the street and then the money is spent on drugs or alcohol. It is better to take the time to buy a meal for such an individual than to hand him or her cash.