Should Christians give to the poor? This seems to be a silly question, in fact I’ll answer it this way: “Of course we’re supposed to give to the poor!” but have you ever thought about why?
We don’t do so “just because” we do it, especially when we do it to fellow Christians, because we are doing it to Jesus:
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
-Matt 25:34-40What Jesus is saying here is that when a Believer gives food to the hungry, gives something to drink to the thirsty, is welcoming to those who are out of place, give clothes to people without, visit the sick at the hospital (or elsewhere), visit those in prison, etc. They are actually doing it to Jesus.
The group that Jesus is talking about is the “least of these.” I’m sure you’ve heard that before… but who are “these?” Well, in this passage “these,” Jesus says, are “my brothers.” In other words, when you help the poor in the church, you are helping Jesus in an extra special way.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
-Prov 19:17Do you ever think about your generosity as a way to save for the future? That’s what you’re doing. When you help a fellow Christian in need, you are “storing up treasure in heaven” (cf. Matt 6:19-21).
Not only is the positive true, but the negative… When you don’thelp the poor, and you are aware of it, you are turning your back on Jesus. This is not a place you want to be. Read the rest of Matt 25:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment…”
-Matt 25:41-46aWhich group do you want to be in? Read Matt 25:46 again “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
What Do You Think?
- How important is it for the church to care for the poor?
- If caring for the poor is so important… is that the primary mission of the Church?
- Check out the distribution of giving by annual income in the OT: 10% to the Levites (Num 18:21, 24); 10% for worship services & feasts (14:22-23); 10% every 3 yrs for the poor (Deut 14:28-29) = 23.33% annually… now that’s a “TITHE” and then some!