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Spring Warrior Church of Christ

7432 S. Red Padgett Road


Perry, FL 32348
584-5176

WHAT wOULD JESUS dO? No. 18

JESUS WOULD GIVE TO THE POOR by Bill Blue


Jesus taught believers have a responsibility to give to the hungry,
poor and needy (Matt. 25:31-46). David wrote, “Blessed is he who considers
the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble” (Psalm 41:1). Consider
also what Proverbs has to say:

• “[H]appy is he who is gracious to the poor … he who is gracious to the


needy honors Him [God]” (Prov. 14:21, 31).
• “He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker” (Prov. 17:5).
• “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will
repay him for his good deed” (Prov. 19:17).
• “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and
not be answered” (Prov. 21:13).
• “He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to
the poor” (Prov. 22:9).
• “He who gives to the poor will never want, But he who shuts his eyes
will have many curses” (Prov. 28:27).

Jesus felt compassion for the hungry (Matt. 15:32; Mark 8:2-3). On
multiple occasions, Jesus fed them himself (Matt. 15:32-38; John 6:1-14)
even though He had no home on this earth of His own (Matt. 8:20; Luke
9:58). In 1 Corinthians, Paul points out that unless we too are motivated by
love for the ones receiving our gifts, then our obedience to God’s command
has profited us nothing spiritually. “[T]hough 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 Cor. 13:3).

If our guiding principle is to consider “what would Jesus do,” then we


too will feed the poor and be less concerned about our material prosperity.
In the story of the “Rich Young Ruler” (Matt. 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-31; Luke
18:18-27), Jesus provided this additional instruction to a man who had
faithfully kept God’s commandments, "If you wish to be complete [or
perfect], go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matt. 19:21). The lesson here
isn’t that we must give all we have to the poor, but rather to emphasize how
Christians 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 are
endless. 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 John
the Baptist was imprisoned, he sent a question to Jesus, asking if He was the
Expected One. Part of Jesus’ answer to John was, “the poor have the gospel
preached to them” (Matt. 11:2-5; Luke 7:22; see also Luke 4:18). Of course,
this verse demonstrates that Jesus’ concern for the poor is not limited to
their physical well being, but their spiritual well being as well. When
evangelizing, do we consider the poor, or do we cherry-pick those whom we
believe are “good prospects” for the church? James warned against this form
of 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 than


the church’s authority to spend congregational funds. Paul said that an
individual Christian’s responsibility to “do good,” is not limited to other
Christians. “[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 pattern
for using congregational funds is limited to examples of churches giving to
other Christians. For example, in Acts 11:27-30 Christians in Antioch
collected 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 is
limited to benefiting the poor, needy, or wanting Christians (2 Cor. 8:4, 9:1,
9:12; Rom. 15:26, Phil. 4:16, etc.). Thus, the Scriptures indicate that a
congregation’s authority and responsibility for benevolent activity is not as
broad as the responsibility given to individual Christians.

Spiritually speaking, we should recognize that we are all poor, and rely
upon God’s help for our spiritual sustenance (Matt. 5:3).

Jesus’ teachings on giving are commandments by which we will be


judged. “Everlasting punishment” is reserved for the unmerciful and
uncompassionate who fail to feed the hungry and clothe the needy, but
eternal life is promised to those who follow Jesus’ teachings on, and
examples of, compassionate giving (Matt. 25:31-46; see also James 2:13).

This article is reprinted online at http://www.bibleweb.com.