Charles Spurgeon

The moral dilemma of a drug-addicted beggar

Have you ever been asked for money by a beggar, but been reluctant to give any for fear that it will fund a drug habit or some other destructive behaviour? I’m sure many of us have felt the tension between wanting to be generous and not wanting to fund an addiction. We are not the first to face this dilemma, and we can undoubtedly learn from those who went before us, whether or not we agree with their conclusions.

Charles Spurgeon, a Victorian preacher, pondered this very question. He decided that he would give money to people in need, even if he knew they would spend it on an addiction instead of spending it on food, and gave two reasons. His first reason was:

If poor people come to me, apparently starving, and I give them bread, and when they receive it, they turn it into drink, I am not to be held accountable for their wrongdoing. My present and pressing duty is to relieve the hungry, and to prevent starvation as far as I can. If men and women are so sinful as to abuse the mercy which God sends to them through me, I am not to be so wrong as to cease from giving to the poor on that account.

In other words, Spurgeon drew a sharp distinction between his responsibility and the responsibility of the poor. He was to be an instrument of God’s mercy, giving generously to others. How those gifts were used was the responsibility of the person to whom they were given.

The second reason Spurgeon gave was:

If God were to keep back from us all his mercies because we might turn them into evils, there would be very little for him to bestow upon us. There is not anything in this world, however good it may be, but may be turned to evil by the sons of men; but God does not withhold his favours because of that sad fact.

Both quotes by Charles Spurgeon, quoted in Sunlight for Cloudy Days, p77

Here we see that Spurgeon sees it as Godly behaviour to give gladly even when that giving may be misused. Notice how he identifies himself as a sinner turning blessings into evil behaviour, just like some beggars turn generosity into destructive addictions. Only from that perspective, as a recipient of God’s goodness, is he able to apply the lesson to himself and fulfil his duty, giving freely and without suspicion.

Do you agree with Spurgeon’s reasoning? What do you do in these situations?

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Let them leap to hell

I don’t often post stuff midweek, but this quote is worth reading.

If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.

C.H. Spurgeon

Found at Tim Challies’ blog.

I wonder what’s gonna happen to Harry Brown now?

This weekend I was planning to be at UCCF’s Biblical Evangelism Conference, which I believe is essentially a weekend of training on giving evangelistic talks from the Bible (though the snow meant I ended up not going). In keeping with that, I though it might be worth commenting on two quotes I came across a while ago from quite different sources.

The first is from a BBC interview which Mark Lawson conducted with Sir Michael Caine.  At one point (3:42 into the linked clip) Michael Caine says

If the audience is sitting there saying ‘Oh, isn’t Michael Caine a wonderful actor!’ then I’ve done it all wrong. They should be saying ‘I wonder what’s gonna happen to Harry Brown now?’

Michael Caine wants to be transparent, a mere window into the character he is portraying. His only intention is to reveal to us Harry Brown. There is a strong parallel with how Jesus lived, perfectly revealing His Father.

As I and others learn about giving evangelistic talks, this is how we need to speak. We are not to point to ourselves, but to another. If the audience is sitting there saying ‘Oh, isn’t Tim a wonderful speaker!’ then I’ve done it all wrong.

During the 1880s a group of American ministers visited England, prompted especially by a desire to hear some of celebrated preachers of that land.

On a Sunday morning they attended the City Temple where Dr. Joseph Parker was the pastor. Some two thousand people filled the building, and Parker’s forceful personality dominated the service. His voice was commanding, his language descriptive, his imagination lively, and his manner animated. The sermon was scriptural, the congregation hung upon his words, and the Americans came away saying, “What a wonderful preacher is Joseph Parker!”

In the evening they went to hear Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. The building was much larger than the City Temple, and the congregation was more than twice the size. Spurgeon’s voice was much more expressive and moving and his oratory noticeably superior. But they soon forgot all about the great building, the immense congregation, and the magnificent voice. They even overlooked their intention to compare the various features of the two preachers, and when the service was over they found themselves saying, “What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus Christ!”

Spurgeon: a new biography by Arnold Dallimore, p216