It would be somewhat easier if scripture did tell everyone exactly what to do about this complicated global problem, but it does not. Christian philosophers have discussed issues of charity for millennia, and one topic of concern was precisely about showing charity to others. In Summa Theologica, the great doctor of the church Thomas Aquinas discusses whether there is an order to charity. Must we love everyone in outward effects equally? Or do we demonstrate love more to our near neighbors than our distant neighbors? His answers: No to the first question, yes to the second. (See Articles 1, 6, 7, etc.) The Summa is one of the most influential works of Western literature and very influential in the history of Christian thought.

Is it loving to accept refugees from a war-torn country? Of course. Is it loving to not care about security risks that could lead to the death of your countrymen? No. Is it prudent to consider the benefits to humanity relative to the risks to yourself of others? Of course.

Think about it in your own life. Perhaps you have been blessed with enough resources to share some of your bounty with those in need. Do you give money to the beggar you encounter on the street? Do you support charities that help the homeless? Do you give money to your congregation and have the elders and pastors distribute it to those in need? Do you help friends who are in a crunch? Do you open up your house to those who are in need of shelter? Maybe you do one or several of these things. But in what you do, it’s incumbent on you to first take care of your vocational responsibilities to your nearest neighbors — your family. You may be less willing to let a stranger sleep on your sofa if you have young children, for instance. You may be less willing to share your largesse with a charity if your daughter just lost her job and is worried about making ends meet.