We’ve got to take care of our own first before we can help anyone else. If we don’t have a place, a base of operatons, a storehouse from which to distribute, how can we effectively give to those in need? If we’re going to do a soup kitchen, we’ve got to have a kitchen. These ideas, in part, come from Galatians 6:10 – “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Other verses allude that there might be an order to charity. 2 Corinthians 9:12, Romans 12:13, Titus 3:14, and Ephesians 4:28
Jesus himself appears to lean in this direction when he says, “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.’ Matthew 25:40, and again, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42
On the outset, it seems to make sense. Its the “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first – THEN you can help others,” concept. But then again there’s that annoying sliver of doubt which tells us that the order might be reversed.
Allow me to pose a scenario: You encounter two equally hungry and destitute persons. In all respects, they are indistinguishable as to their poverty. In all respects but one. One is a believer and the other is not. Which person do you help first? Why?
See the first post in this series: A Theology of Poverty & Praxis – Part I