Taken to the Cleaners?

Social justice and mercy to the poor has been on my mind and on the minds of some friends lately, LT mentions the Faith in Action Study Bible and Todd (post “Does Our Worship Stink?”). In reaching out to the “least of these” in my community, I have been running into the issue of counter-exploitation. While wanting to help out those who are disadvantaged, should we let some take us to the cleaners?

Perhaps one of the words I’m grasping for is vulnerability. Once you make yourself available to help someone, you have essentially established a pipeline with them through which that person will receive your services. It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s great. There’s nothing better than helping someone. But the problem seems to come when the person becomes dependent on the “pipeline”.

Example Today:
The person we’ve been helping for years with food, money, and countless other things wanted us to give her a ride today. Here’s the deal: We had told her to get insurance for her car. She refused and was pulled over 20 minutes away from town at a church, forcing her to have it towed back to her place. We put the matter into the hands of her brother who offered to pay for a taxi (not wanting to pick her up in his own uninsured car that he drives all over the place!).

As it stands, no one could have picked her up for a while from our church and we figured that the taxi ride would hopefully let some of the consequences sink in. I don’t know if we made the right call. We have this image in our mind of becoming her personal taxi service, being at her beck and call, never really challenging her to change her lifestyle. I should mention that the car she refused to insure was donated to her by someone in our church, so it’s not like we’ve never helped her!

The tension is when to jump in and when to pull back. I’m new to this and very sinful and selfish. We need the heart of Jesus for sure in this.

Any thoughts?