Christianity and Helping the Poor
In Deuteronomy 15.11, God says to the Israelites, "I command you to be open handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land." (New International Version) God commanded the Israelites to help the poor and intended for Christians to take this as an example and follow it. The Israelites were God's people in the Old Testament and Christians, including those from Israel, are God's people. As this is read from the Bible, all that is thought of is that we are people of God and that we need to take God's commands seriously and to heart. Why, how, and how much should the needy be helped? Take a look at some examples and we can see what God commands us to do with the needy.
While helping to support the needy, it is important to remember to not just give things to people who are less fortunate than others, but to "assist" them in doing things that they may want or need to do.
This can be done by showing others our love for them and our love for God by our actions more than our words. But someone may say, "One person has faith, another has actions." My answer is, "Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions." (James. 2.18, Today's English Version) Showing faith by actions would be to help out someone in need with a smile on our face and not complaining about it later. "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9.7, New International Version) Each person should give spiritually, and also physically.
Physically helping the poor may be very demanding for most people. One way to look at helping the poor and having the amounts being nice to look at is to do what God says in the Bible. "Every Sunday each of you must put aside some money, in proportion to what you have earned, and save it up so that there will be no need to collect money when I come." (1 Cor. 16. 2-3, Today's English Version) In this passage God spells out pretty clear what he has in mind for us to do. Take part of each paycheck and put it in a fund so that when there is a person in need of a little extra money there will be some money to give to them. It does not have to be a lot of money, but just some so that it is possible to help support the needy just as God would want us to do.
Helping does not harm the poor. In Hardin's essay he makes the point,"We must ask if such a program would actually do more good than harm, not only momentarily but also in the long run." He is talking about the World Food Bank and how he believes that people are taking advantage of it instead of using it as a resource. In some cases the Food Bank is being taken advantage of, but that does not mean that it is doing harm to people who do not need it. It is helping out the poor, and some others who may not need the food as much, but that is what it is there for. "You think that this will harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Gen. 50.20, New International Version) This may be what God has intended for the Food Banks around the world. People may think that the food banks are doing harm because they are being taken advantage of, but, God definitely intended them to help people so they don't have to starve to death. Even when people take food when they do not need it, it is not harming them, it is just disrespectful to others who may need it. Christians need to think of others in situations like these instead of thinking of ourselves.
When thinking of others, do not only consider them as equals to you, but also treat them with love. In Matt. 7.1-2 God says, "Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way that you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others." (Today's English Version) If this is taken this into consideration and it is decided upon not to judge others, we will be treating them as equals to ourselves. If everyone feels the equality they will no doubt, feel the love that we have for them.
"Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth, love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail." (1 Cor. 13. -7, Today's English Version) This verse says that love is worth more help than we could ever wish to give. Love is the biggest reason that Christians should give to the poor. Jesus said, "And now I give you a new commandment; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13.34, Today's English Version) Christ said this as one of the last things he said to the disciples before he died. Many times in the Bible love comes up as the theme. Take a look at how many times the word "love" is in the Bible. There are about 280 scriptures with the word love in it in the Bible. It is easy to see that love is very important to God. As said before, LOVE NEVER FAILS. There is no way to love others if there is no love for God. Just as Paul writes,"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor. 13:3, New International Version) If we give to the poor without love we will gain nothing. Giving without love is like giving nothing at all.
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9.7, New International Version) As the bible stated that God loves a cheerful giver, this should make Christians want to give with a good attitude. If people are true Christians and they really want to follow God they will follow his command, and give to the poor or needy with a good attitude. It is easy for people to tell when others have bad attitudes, or if we are not in a good mood. The poor can also sense that too. If we are giving with a bad attitude, the poor will be able to tell and they will not want your help. If we are giving with bad attitudes, that is very unchristian like, and it will not be pleasing to God. If it is not pleasing to God then why do it? Do your giving in a cheerful way "Because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men." (Romans 14.18, New International Version)
As this paper comes to an end, it reminds ourselves why, how and how much we should help the poor. It has been evident that the bible verses and arguments that have to do with showing the faith of God by helping, considering equality of others as they are helping, being unselfish while giving and not boasting, and also giving as a cheerful giver and not out of obligation. As these points were shown to you, it has hopefully been easy to see the reasons why, how, and how much we should give to the needy. Remember God says, "I command you to be open handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land." (Duet. 15.11, New International Version) Take these words from God and fulfill the Christian ways of giving to the poor and needy.