treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me"
(Matt. 19:21). The lesson hereisn’t that we must give all we have to the poor, but rather to emphasize howChristians should think first of others and less of material possessions (Matt.6:19-24, 22:36-40). The opportunities for following Jesus’ teachings to give to the poor areendless. As Jesus said,
“For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good”
(Mark 14:7). Jesus’ concern for the poor is a proof that He is the Christ. When Johnthe Baptist was imprisoned, he sent a question to Jesus, asking if He was theExpected One. Part of Jesus’ answer to John was,
“the poor have the gospel preached to them”
(Matt. 11:2-5; Luke 7:22;
Luke 4:18). Of course,this verse demonstrates that Jesus’ concern for the poor is not limited totheir physical well being, but their spiritual well being as well. Whenevangelizing, do we consider the poor, or do we cherry-pick those whom webelieve are “good prospects” for the church? James warned against this formof discrimination when he wrote
“have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? … [I]f you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors”
(James 2:4, 9). The benevolent responsibility of individual Christians is broader thanthe church’s authority to spend congregational funds. Paul said that an
Christian’s responsibility to “do good,” is not limited to otherChristians.
“[L]et us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith”
(Gal. 6:10). However, the New Testament patternfor using
funds is limited to examples of churches giving toother Christians. For example, in Acts 11:27-30 Christians in Antiochcollected a
“contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.”
Consider also how James instruct individuals that,
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress,”
without reference to whether they were believers(James 1:27), but churches took care of only Christian widows (1 Tim. 5:16;Acts 6:1). The New Testament pattern for using congregational funds islimited to benefiting the poor, needy, or wanting Christians (2 Cor. 8:4, 9:1,9:12; Rom. 15:26, Phil. 4:16,
). Thus, the Scriptures indicate that acongregation’s authority and responsibility for benevolent activity is not asbroad as the responsibility given to individual Christians.Spiritually speaking, we should recognize that we are all poor, and relyupon God’s help for our spiritual sustenance (Matt. 5:3). Jesus’ teachings on giving are commandments by which we will be judged.
is reserved for the unmerciful anduncompassionate who fail to feed the hungry and clothe the needy, but