Matthew 5:42 (NIV) “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Even though many translations include this verse in the same paragraph as verses 38-41, it is separate. Those verse deal with a Christian’s response to violence and coercion. This verse deals with generosity. But all of the do have this in common: they all militate against self-interest.
When someone asks to borrow something, the most natural thing to do is to evaluate the situation from a self-centered viewpoint. Do I need the item or money right now? Can I do without it or a while? How long? Is this person trustworthy? Will they return the item or the money? How hard would it be to replace it if they didn’t?
But from a kingdom standpoint, all that is necessary are two questions: Does this person legitimately need something? Do I have it? If the need is real, and I have what can fill the need, then I should loan, or even give them what they need.
Some may wonder how they can be sure the debt will be repaid or the item returned. The real answer is that earthly possessions, including money, are notoriously ephemeral. If I don’t loan it, it could be lost, stolen or destroyed, and I would be without it anyway. Instead, if I act in love toward my neighbor, I can rest assured that God Himself will be involved in the transaction. Even if they don’t return what is loaned, God will be there to help me meet any of my legitimate needs.
Many times, even church people feel more comfortable trying to protect their possessions, grasping them tightly. But if they would simply trust God to protect what is truly vital, it would free them up to act out of love instead of out of self-interest. God’s way is ultimately much less stressful, and much more satisfying.
Father, thank You for these insights. It is easy to see that the best results all around will come when we trust You, obey You, and free ourselves up to act in love. Amen.