There are many situations in life requiring wisdom. Sometimes knowing how to help someone can be tricky. For instance, what do you do when someone who has a history of drug abuse comes to you asking for money? As far as you know the person has been clean for several years and you have no reason to believe they’re using now, but you’ve been noticing some red flags. They have been acting a bit erratic lately, and now they need cash and fast. What about someone who has a history of going in and out of jail? When do you know it’s time to stop giving to them?

Just a bit of advice to any who haven’t been or lived around someone using drugs. When they start behaving desperate, selling their belongings, asking for money and getting easily offended watch out, especially if you haven’t witnessed this type of behavior before. There’s a good chance there’s something up. So what do you do? This is where wisdom comes in.

I recently talked with a friend of mine who has been attempting to point someone in the right direction. The person they are helping is facing many charges extending from drugs, weapons etc. They have been in and out of jail over and over again in the past years and yet they say, “I’m done with it this time. I’m going to give my life to God.” How do you know when it’s real? When is it time to back away?

My friend was telling me how he had helped this guy before and he ended up back on drugs, breaking his probation and was put back in jail. Now he’s saying, “I’m done this time.” My friend has been contemplating whether or not he should help him anymore. He asked me about it and we talked about the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. It seems the father in that story accepted his son back and gave him full access to all of his goods, signified by his giving him the ring, without any trial period at all. I told my friend the one thing about the prodigal though was he was broken and truly repentant. I’m not so sure about your friend though. This takes discernment from the Spirit.

As my friend told me this he said, “one thing he said was I have to get out of here.” There it is! The real motivation this man has isn’t to stop his behavior rather it’s to get out of jail. I was so proud of my friend because he heard the real reason behind what was being said, and realized his friend wasn’t really repentant, therefore he probably shouldn’t give anything to him for now.

Looking back at the story of the prodigal in Luke 15, notice what took place just before the wayward son came to his senses. After the son had been given his inheritance, went into a far country, spent all his money living irresponsibly and found himself so hungry he longed to eat pig-slop, we read, “and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses…” It was only after no one was there to help him that he came to his senses. I’m not sure about you; but for me it was only after my wife left, I lost my job, my friends stop coming around and I had a raging addiction that I was awakened to my true condition. Then and only then did I decide I wanted to live rather than die; so I headed toward a methadone clinic to start rebuilding my life.

Without quoting too many cliches let me just say, “sometimes you really do have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I’ve also heard it said time and time again “tough love is still love.” As painful as it is to watch someone you love going down the wrong road, many times they have to come to the conclusion it’s the wrong road on their own and all you can do is patiently wait for them to see it. Then you will be free to welcome them back with open arms and enjoy watching God restore them bit by bit to their sanity, family, employment, purpose and joy. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when our help is really hurting the ones we love; but thankfully the Spirit of God is there to show us what we need to see at the very moment we need to see it. If you’re facing a similar situation in life right now don’t let your feelings take the lead. Stop and ask God to show you the truth, open your ears to wisdom and wait…..James 1:5-8.