A Theology of Poverty & Praxis Part II – Church Charity First, then Everyone Else?

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

0 thoughts on “A Theology of Poverty & Praxis Part II – Church Charity First, then Everyone Else?

  1. wbmoore says:

    Since we have no way of knowing the condition of another’s soul/heart, and we have no idea whether one who looks saved is actually saved, we must rely upon God.

    Ask God what you should do in that case. It may be you should help the one you believe is saved because in reality he is not, but the food offered finanlly convicts him and he repents and turns to God because of it, and the one you believe to be unsaved could see your act of charity to the “saved” one and desires what HE has and repents and turns to God. Thus both are saved because you took care of the one you thought was saved but who in reality had not been.

    It may be God wants you to give the food to the “unsaved” one and he does not repent, but the other dies but was saved and goes to heaven.

    It may be God wants you to give the food to the “unsaved” one and he repents and turns to God, but the other dies but was saved and goes to heaven.

    We could go thru all the various possibilities, but suffice it to say the if you let God lead you, your choice wont be wrong. God’s plan is perfect ad includes everything, so He will be praised and glorified. God works all thing out for the good of thos who love Him abd are called according to His purpose.

  2. Bruce Dickey says:

    The parable of the Good Samaritan answers this question and more. Do good unto all men. We can stop right there. The qualifier especially to the household of faith is only for the hesitant. The two mentioned that both needed help. Check to see if you have resources, if you do, feed them both. The parable of the sower addresses the soil, good or bad, our job is to be the sower of the resource, amen!….

    Lets say you have only enough to feed one man. Then it’s still simple, you split that PBJ sandwich in half and give both a snack instead of a meal. Jesus was a man who went about doing good. The student will be like his master.

  3. Henk says:

    The question will be answered differently by Christians from different economic situations. When generosity is inspired by affluence, a person may think differently from someone who has to make tough decisions.

    We have an old evangelist, for example, whose heart burns to travel to the distant corners of our region, but his car is simply too worn. He has a neighbor who is not a disciple yet, who also has an old car. If the church had some dollars to help somebody in our community with transport needs, what would we do? My thinking: by helping the evangelist to use the last remaining productive years of his life to reach communities in spiritual need, we are helping many people indeed. But if we would divide the dollars 50-50, neither would the evangelist be able to repair his car and reach many people, nor would the neighbor be able to show much for it. In Acts, the disciples shared everything among themselves; by doing that, there was no one destitute among them. So they were a strong group who could make a difference. But if every one of them were to just share everything with every random person of Jerusalem….?

  4. Kirk Stephens says:

    Most references regarding hospitality in the Bible are referring to the brethren. Those in Christ. The reality is, there is not a man in this world that is not in Christ. Many are not aware of it, but we are told to love our enemies. Or to be hospitable to all men for we know not whether we are entertaining angels. That last statement holds very true to me. All I know, is we don’t get to pick and choose who belongs to the kingdom, therefore I conclude that we must follow our heart and the leading of the Holy Spirit, when sharing our resources. There would be many local churches that would challenge me on this, insisting that 10% belongs to them first, over an above any additional charity? I truly believe charity is a matter of the heart, and begins at home, keeping in mind James 4:4, where we are told not to be friends with the world.(Anybody have enough stuff yet?) We also have to consider, where in Deuteronomy and Psalms, where the Lord makes provision for foreigners. Consider this, if you were to help a fellow disciple, who would then go and make two more disciples? Follow your heart, it is the very throne, of the Holy Spirit that guides and leads us through our sanctification process. Paradox after paradox, and yet the Bible is full of them.

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