How do you respond when you see the person walking the street between waiting cars with his sign stating: Will work for food… but he is seeking handouts? What are your thoughts towards the single mom or widow who comes to church to ask for financial aid?
In Thessalonians 3:10 the early apostles did not want to be a burden to anyone, and they gave this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” But Matthew 5:42 tells us to “Give to anyone who asks you, and do not turn away.” Finally we have heard: “Don’t throw your money at the problem; if that was the solution our government would work perfectly.” So, how do we respond? The word of God shows us, with closer study, about benevolence.
In his book Generous Justice, Tim Keller describes the care and cause of widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor as the “quartet of the vulnerable.” As Christians we are called not just to have compassion but to defend the rights of the poor and the needy. Why should we be concerned with the vulnerable ones? Because God is concerned.
“The Lord defends the fatherless and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving him food and clothing.” Our benevolence is biblically toward the poor (Galatians 2:10), the needy (Ephesians 4:28), to God’s servants (Philippians 4:14-17) and even towards our enemies. As Proverbs 25:21 states: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat: if he is thirty, give him water to drink.” This can also be expanded toward the disabled and the unborn.
It’s a directive
Jonathan Edwards concluded in his discord The Duty of Charity to the Poor, “Where have we any command in the Bible laid down in stronger terms, and in a more urgent manner, than the command of giving to the poor?” Proverbs tells us that “If we dishonor the poor we insult God, and if we are generous to the poor we honor him.”
Giving to the plight of the poor and needy is not only charity and compassion but most importantly, it is justice. In scripture gifts to the poor are acts of righteousness, and not giving generously is unrighteousness and a violation of God’s law (Matthew 6:1-2). Thus, radical generosity is one of the marks of living justly. Remember, “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). Jesus tells us to give to the thirsty, hungry, homeless, the sick and those in prison, and “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers, you did for me” (Matthews 25:40).
The right perspective
In speaking to benevolence directors and volunteers over the years, it would seem that it would be easy to become desensitized and discouraged in this work and toward those requesting help. How exhausting to hear all the sad stories, always assessing the true motives of the person and ever cautious not to enable some sin or addiction.
A church benevolence minister recently told me that if we did this in our own effort, looking for fruit and results, we would be feel discouragement and failure 100 percent of the time. The proper motivation for the Christian is that we do all things unto the Lord. That keeps us faithful week after week. We are confident as we work for the Lord, believing for what is yet to come (that we do not see); that in every good endeavor we will someday see how all the incomplete details of our benevolent work is part of God’s preordained plan; that there is some spiritual work that we cannot see in this invisible kingdom that one day, we hope, as we have done all things in faith in Christ, that he was doing something larger on the other side of eternity as we view his grand masterpiece.
2 Corinthians 9:11 states: “We have been made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion… which will result in thanksgiving to God.” Our benevolence is a witness to Christ in us.
Jeffery Masters, President of Jeffery W. Masters & Associates 954-977-5150. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Independent Financial Partners, a registered investment advisor. Independent Financial Partners and Jeffery W. Masters & Associates are separate entities’ from LPL Financial – Jeffery.Masters@LPL.com