- the relationship with the person
- what can be gained by helping the person
- whether the person really need help
- whether the person deserves to be helped
Some people would think
"If I help him now, is he going to help me in the future?"
Though it sounds more like "utilizing" your friends, I think that it's pretty natural also. You don't really want to help someone who doesn't appreciate your effort; if s/he does, s/he should be happy to do you a favor when you need it.
Obviously, you also consider whether the person actually needs the help. It's certainly a joke for a millionaire to ask you to borrow him twenty bucks since he has no money to buy something to eat. This factor is not only natural but very logical.
But, do you consider whether the person deserves the help or not?
Besides finding out if the person actually needs the help, this is actually the most important factor to me and I'm always surprised to learn that people ignore it consciously.
You have a problem finding out the derivative of f(x) = x log(x+2) and ask me for help? No problem. First of all, do you know what product rule is?
Alright, how about a derivative of a function? Do you know what it means?
Do you actually know what a function is?
Oh boy, have you read the textbook at all? Did you do your homework?
When people ask me for help, I expect that they've done some work on their own already. It's just that the problem is a little bit too much for them to solve on their own and so they're asking for some hints. Don't you feel embarrassed to ask for help when you've not even tried?
The government helps people ONLY based on their needs. If you're unemployed, you receive money through unemployment compensation. If you're poor, you can apply for food stamps. The government does not care whether it is one's laziness or over-spending habit that leads to his/her poverty; as long as you're in need, you're given the benefits.
I understand it is difficult (both resource-wise and political-wise) for the government to decide whether someone deserves the help s/he needs on a case by case basis. However, it is difficult doesn't mean that it's not the right thing to do. Actually, it's right because the resources of this world is limited, we should only help the people who need and deserve it.
You may ask
"Well, let's say we agree to help people who deserve it. But, who's to judge? Everyone has a different standard on this matter."
People have different values. Nevertheless, there're general standards among us. If our values are totally different, laws wouldn't exist as we'll disagree on every one of them.
So, next time people ask for your help, find out if they've tried their best first. There should not be any gain with no pain.