October 20, 2020

Radical Benevolence

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.- 2 Corinthians 9:7

When we think of giving, beneveloence and charity many things come to mind. Maybe you were just asked to donate to a worthy cause, maybe you were in the Exxon parking lot and somebody asked you for money for gas. Whatever the case may be, there are likely times when you have felt compelled to give and times you haven’t. 

The Bible is very clear on giving, though probably not in the way people would prefer. The Oxford Dictionary defines radical as “very different from the usual or traditional” So Radical Benevolence (giving money and other items to help people) would be a type of benevolence (and ultimately love) that is so different you would be taken back, but please hear me out.

THE TRADITIONAL VIEW OF BENEVOLENCE

When an individual asks for help, you want to help them. Christians are compelled through various commands in The Bible to help one another. How familiar is the following scenario in your local church group of believers:

Person Seeking Help: (PSH) *Goes to the church office*. “I need some money for gas/food/rent/etc…”

Pastor/Other Person usually in charge of finances:  Our church policy says that we don’t give out cash, but if you follow me to a gas station I will fill your tank/call your landlord and pay your rent/take you to the grocery store etc…

THE “RADICAL” VIEW

When an individual asks for help, the radical view shows that the following scenario from above would have been handled much differently.

PSH: *goes to the church office*. “I need some money for xyz”.

Other Person: Okay. Here, take this and be blessed, it’s free with no strings attached. Have a good day and God Bless you

Whoa! so we’re just supposed to give them money? What about if they mis use it or abuse it, or aren’t that needy to begin with and just want to scam me? Those are some great questions. I’m going to try and answer them below.

  1. What if they misuse the money?

So what? We are called to judge those inside the church, not outside (What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? 1 Cor. 5:12) 

When it gets to the point that Christians are determining whether or not somebody is worthy of our help  it is indeed a sad day in Christiandom. All throughout scripture we are compelled to give, not only cheerfully but often.

Some key scriptures:

Matthew 5:42- Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Duet 5:9-11- You shall give to him [your brother] freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Hebrews 13:16- And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

1 John 3:17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

If they misuse it, ultimately that is between them and God. Specifically I want to point out that 1 John 3:17-18 (Referenced above) uses helping others and meeting their needs as one criteria that you love God. If you love God, then you will love people and loving people means helping and meeting a need without strings attached.

2) What about my needs?

God says he will supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19) so an answer to this question starts with, trusting God to supply your needs as he promises.

Some key scriptures:

Isaiah 58:10-11 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The verse in Isaiah tells us clearly that if we help the hungry and oppressed, then he will satisfy our needs. This is yet another promise that God will meet your needs if you follow what he commands.

3) What about those inside the church, should we not help them first?

The Bible tells us to help those who are among us, but the Bible also tells us:

Romans 12:13-14 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 

Galations 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Let do good to ALL PEOPLE. It goes on to say especially to those in the household of faith, but never exempts us from helping others. If it comes down to helping 2 people, one is in the household of faith and one isn’t- then you need to listen to the Holy Spirit (which you should be doing anyway).

PROMISES

Did you know that God gives us promises in The Bible if we do what he says and help others? Sure he does, lots of them. Here are a few:

  1. He says we will be blessed as the giver than receiver… (Acts 20:35)
  2. We will be rewarded (though not necc. on earth) … Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

4) Is there a limit? What about enabling?

This is a valid point and one we need to address. Enabling is when you enable a person to continue in a destructive lifestyle or they are not doing anything on their own. The Bible tells us that if a man does not work, he should not eat (2 Thess 3:10). There comes a time when you may have to say “no” or refer them.

However….

You can’t know this on a first meeting. When we presume we know that they can’t be trusted, this is sending an unloving message. Once you have helped them and get to know them, then there is room for deeper discipleship and accountability, but it you start out of the gate with fighting and distrust- you aren’t going to win them to Christ.

The world needs to see a loving picture of trust, this comes through us. How can we expect them to trust Christ if we show them no trust from the beginning?

FINAL THOUGHTS, The how & why?

We should give cheerfully (2 For 9:7) “For God loves a cheerful giver”

and secretly (Matthew 6:3-4)- Do not let the right hand know what the left is doing.

We give because of love (1 John 4:7-8)

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