The night before thanksgiving, I lay back in my tub, truly thankful for the steamy water with which I basted my weary body. Properly settled in my little pool of prosperity, I opened my November 25 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY and began to peruse the current events of the Lord’s church, content with my luxury, until I came to the article by Mark Galli concerning the Christian’s many excuses for not giving to the poor (“Five Reasons for Not Giving to the Poor”).

As I read, I perceived an uneasy feeling of guilt over the comfort of my bath in a world where “comfort” is too often an unshared experience. How often have I, myself, used the excuses Pastor Galli had so aptly pointed out.

And yet, a red light began to blink its warning. Then I saw the hang-up: a desperately needed point of consideration had been totally excluded from the piece—the need for caution and direction in giving.

It must be said, at the outset, that the intent of Galli’s article was well taken. We more prosperous Christians have an ugly tendency to bury our responsibility to the poor in a pile of excuses. Indeed, this reply to Galli’s article is not so much a rebuttal as it is an addendum. The suggestions I offer are not to be used as simply more excuses not to give, but rather, as cautions to give properly.

Years ago, as a young associate pastor at a large church in Indiana, I found myself a prime target for the multitude of fund seekers in the community. (I suppose anyone who wears a three-piece suit every day is considered rich.)

In those tender years, I gave “till it hurt.” It took over 10 years of experience to learn the reasons for showing caution in giving.

You May Hurt The Person You’Re Trying To Help

Before we can learn how to give, we must have a solid ...

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