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An Overlooked Form Of Christian Giving
We Christians are constantly being bombarded with heart-wrenching and sometimes guilt-inducing requests for money for many worthy organizations.
The constant demand to give can be overwhelming, especially when we feel an undercurrent of fear of that we might be ripped off. And let’s face it – we sometimes get tired of the whole “give generously” thing and don’t want to hear that message one more time. We may turn off the little tug at our heart to help someone as a result.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:6-8 - New International Version (NIV)
The need for some types of giving stare us in the face but we still overlook them because we are not seeing the needs of people around us. We walk around blindly and don't recognize ways that we can help others. We see that people are discouraged, have lost their jobs, or are in crisis, but do not clue in and realize that we often have the means to help them.
We Christians are saved by grace, but have an obligation to do good to all people, especially other Christians (Romans 12:3). We shouldn't get tired of doing the right thing (Galatians 5:9-10) - it is our obligation as Christians. There are times that we need to help each other out, if we can (Proverbs 3:27). We need to be mindful to see what needs to be done.
There is a way to give, however, that is often overlooked and missed. Yet this kind of giving can make a tremendous difference in the lives of our neighbors, friends and fellow church members.
Jesus Christ’s life was full of incidents where he met the needs of the people around them. He turned water to wine, fed thousands of people, visited people who needed him even though they were sinners in the eyes of the world. He met people's needs, from turning water into wine to healed their ailments and even resurrecting the dead. Jesus told us to give to those who ask us for help (Matthew 5:42).
Christ explained the importance of serving other people in a parable about a separation of sheep from goats in Matthew 25:31-46.
Are we sheep?
The time of judgment is described as a time when the Son of man, Jesus, separates the sheep to the right and the goats to the left. The reason the sheep make it to His right is that they saw His needs and met them such as:
- Fed Him when He was hungry
- Gave Him a drink when He was thirsty
- Invited Him to their house and showed him hospitality even though He was a stranger
- Provided clothing when He needed them
- Visited Him while he was in prison
Both the sheep and the goats didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. They asked Him when: did they see Him hungry, thirsty or in prison? Jesus answered that when people served mankind, they served Him as well.
Or are we goats?
Like the sheep and goats, we can be clueless to the needs of people around us. We hear people tell us their needs either directly or indirectly, but the information goes over our heads. If we hear that a person has no food to eat or no clothes to wear, and don’t met their physical needs, nobody benefits.
We don't receive the blessing that comes with giving, and the poor person does not receive the benefit of our giving. James says if we don't meet the needs to others, our faith is dead (James 2:14-15). God considers pure religion and undefiled before God as visiting the fatherless and the widows and helping them (James 1:27).
Sometimes we need to read between the lines of what people are saying to determine their needs. For example, sudden unemployment may mean a person needs financial help. A person saying they are moving may need some help packing or making the actual move.
We can be like sheep and help. Jesus rejected the goats in the parable who represented people did not meet the needs of others.
What holds us back?
Sometimes, we see people's needs but we don't act. We may worry about hurting their feelings by offering our help or making them angry, especially if they are very proud individuals. Even if people reject our help, most will appreciate that we cared enough to offer our assistance. Offering assistance is the godly thing to do when we see needs we may be able to meet.
Christians should be generous because they love (3 John 16 - 17) and want to help others, and not out of a sense of obligation. Christians should not give begrudgingly. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Jesus instructs us to help the weak and says that we will be blessed even more than the person receiving our blessing (Acts 20:35).
When we become more aware of the needs of the people in our lives, this often overlooked form of giving brings joy and fulfillment to both of us as the giver and as the recipient.
@ Carola Finch