Why must we give?
This is a particularly sensitive topic to talk about. In the world today, there are a lot of views on morality. More than half of them with arguments to back them up. It is more interesting to note that even two views that are directly contradicting each other will both have points to back them up. This questions the validity and soundness of those arguments; but that is by the way.
We have a code of conduct which we are bound to live by. God expects you, as a Christian, to live by the standards of the Bible. This defines our morality. The Bible covers all aspects of your existence – encompassing before you were to born, to after you’re gone from this world. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t only speak about the spirituality of a Christian. It also talks about everyday activities and dealings. For instance, it even talks about education (Proverbs 4:7, Proverbs 23:12).
Everything that is necessary for you to live a well-rounded and fulfilled life is contained within the pages of the Holy Bible. The problems arise when you pick and choose what to agree with and what not to agree with. There seems to be a misconception that Christianity can be likened to a Supermarket. Walk in, take what you want out of it and leave the rest for someone else who cares. You see, Christianity comes as a compact package. It’s an all-in-one all-expenses-paid deal. Take it or leave it. When you tear it down and pick the pieces apart, you’re no longer practising Christianity.
The Word of God teaches us that we should give to the needy (Deuteronomy 15:8). In fact, giving to the needy is giving to God Himself (Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 25:31-46). One of the things that struck me most this morning is that God actually expects us to give what we have to the poor. He requires it, even.
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 14:3, 8-9 says, “It isn’t right for someone who is selfish to be rich. What use is money to a stingy person? A selfish person is evil; he turns his back on people’s needs and is never satisfied with what he has. Greed will shrivel up a person’s soul.” In another place (Ephesians 4:28), we see that the first thing St. Paul mentions as the reason for work is having something to share with a needy person; not solely for our benefits. It’s as if your money is not even truly yours. Well, it isn’t. God gave you everything you have (1 Corinthians 4:7).
1 John 3:17 interprets helping a brother in need as an evidence of the presence of the Love of God in a person.
The righteous rich man
An interesting account in the Bible is that of Jesus and the rich man (Matthew 19:16-30). You may have read this over and over again and missed this very important part in verse 21: the man obeyed ALL THE LAWS! And I’m thinking… THIS MAN MUST HAVE THREE 1ST CLASS PLANE TICKETS TO HEAVEN BY THIS POINT!!! And Jesus knew he wasn’t lying (Mark 10:21) but that he lacked one thing: alms-giving. Notice that Jesus considers this as the act that would have made the man perfect (Matthew 19:21) – this same Jesus who asks us to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). One act of alms-giving moved Jesus to grant salvation to the household of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8-10)!
It would interest you to know that just like prayers, alms also ascend to God are remembered by Him (Acts 10:4, Acts 10:31).
In general, the Word of God is very particular about helping the needy (Isaiah 58:6-11). It even goes further to shower us with blessings (Luke 12:32-34, Luke 11:41) – blessing us for the things that we should even be eager to do naturally (Galatians 2:10). The Bible talks about simple gestures of kindness, Matthew 5:42, and bigger and more loving ones, Luke 14:12-14 – even taking the time to teach us the right way to give, Matthew 6:1-4.
Nowhere in the Bible is this giving limited to just helping your friends in need. It also includes the beggars on the streets; even people you’ve never met before!
The mind-boggling question
How, then, is it possible that you can claim to love God, and pass by the beggar on the streets without doing anything to help his situation? It’s even more disheartening when a child is involved! You never have “loose change” to give on the streets but always have enough for festive gatherings. You can’t spare a little of your food for a hungry man but you can buy an extra burger to take home with you.
How can you say you love God that you cannot see when you can’t show love to your neighbour which you can see (1 John 4:20)? Do you honestly think God is pleased with your gifts, tithes, and offerings at church when you cannot give to the poor (Amos 5:21-24)? Where is your sense of justice?! Do you think he enjoys seeing you exchange wonderful and expensive presents with your friends when people on your streets are LITERALLY DYING of starvation? What kind of sadistic God do you think He is? How can you have money for any other thing when a life is at stake; a life created in the very image and likeness of the God you profess your love to?
The moral of the story is: when next you see a beggar on the street, helping that beggar is the only thing that matters to God in your entire life at that moment! Hard truth. In this sick world of twisted morals and self-centeredness, you might be the only real help the person in need will receive that day.
Give, and give generously (Luke 6:38).
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Let’s start this giving campaign together.