The community of Jonesboro is probably like hundreds of communities receiving evacuees. Arms are wide open, wallets are wide open, daytimers are wide open. The help is incredible.
At the same time, there is an undercurrent that is a little troubling. I have heard, more than once, something like this: "We're so glad to help, we really hope it gets used for people who really need it."
Let me translate: "We'd better get our money's worth," or "I better not get taken advantage of or my generosity ends."
It is almost as if people want a 5 year/50,000 smiles warranty on their compassion. But there is no gurantees with compassion.
The problem is that the success of compassion is being measured by the result of the "end user." Did every single expression of compassion have the maximized impact to the most needy person AND did they receive it with maximized appreciation? Then and only then was the compassion successful, and therefore worth it.
Jesus did not measure the success of compassion by end user, but by the compassion itself. The ultimate sacrifice Jesus made, not to mention the hundreds of non-ultimate sacrifices he made, were successful not contingent upon a maximized potential.
Jesus died for all people, but not all people received it. So what is Jesus to do with that?
When compassion requires something in return, it is not compassion. When strings are attached, then it is more like a paycheck, than a gift of comapssion. When compassion requires gratitude, when it requires "proper" usage of the gift, when compassion imposes in any way, then it is diminished.
I hate getting taken advantage of as much as anyone. However, when it comes to giving we need to understand that we are giving to Jesus. If Jesus, disguised as "the least of these," decides to abuse the gift, what is that to you and me?
Compassion is not a consumer item and we do not need a receipt, a promise, or a warranty to come with it. Compassion is not a transaction and it is not fair. Compassion is the kingdom of God coming through in this world.