Helping the poor and those in need: what the Bible really says
Religion & Spirituality
August 22, 2009
By: Richard Bean
Western Religions newsletter
Jesus says that the poor will always be among us. God's Word is very clear that we are to be generous to those in need, and it outlines how we can and should help others. There are quite a few misconceptions about the Bible and its description of Christian generosity.
1) "For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always." (Jesus speaking in Mark 14:7 NKJV)
Jesus teaches us that the poor are always going to be with us. Poverty and need is not a temporary phenomenon where, if we just work hard enough, it will go away. However, the permanent nature of there being poor in the world does not lessen in any way the responsibility of Christians to be generous and to provide for their needs to the best of our ability. Until the end of the world, we will always be called by God to provide for the poor.
2) "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:3)
This verse helps show the distinction in Scripture between simply providing for someone's needs and biblical giving. If you give everything you have, but you have not love, it does you no good. Why does it say it profits "me" nothing, as opposed to "them?" This will be covered under the point describing why God has us provide for the poor. But here in 1 Corinthians, it is important to note that giving should NEVER be separated from love. It must be from the heart of the giver. This is how God designed biblical provision for the poor.
3) "Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'" (Matthew 19:21)
Here we see the purpose that God has in...
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