Category Archives: giving/charity

This Ain’t No Prosperity Gospel

Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. –Proverbs 25:14, KJV

In Acts chapter 5, we hear of Ananias and Sapphira. They were the couple in the fledgling Church in Jerusalem who joined in the spree of selling property and laying the proceeds at the Apostles’ feet.

They are notable for being the people who said they had given everything from the sale, but in truth they held some back. The issue was not keeping some of the money for themselves but lying to the Church and, more importantly, the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit struck them dead for it.

Why, and why is this so important?

First, God was protecting His young Church. He did not want Christ’s Bride defiled immediately after the betrothal.

But He wants people who sow real seeds of blessing. Not to help those in power or receive something in return. Not to make themselves look better in the eyes of other people.

No, (and if you will allow me to get a tad allegorical) God wants His people to give gifts that can rain down and blow across the harvest field of souls.

He is not as concerned with someone’s personal prosperity as with the prosperity of His Church, that she can grow in meaningful number and relationship with Him.

If you boast of your giving of time, money, and resources to the mission of the Church, but that contribution is not as big as you imply (if at all), then you are stealing from and misrepresenting the witness of God and abusing His bride.

God may want a joyful giver, but He would rather you be an honest person who never helps than one who boasts of what in truth he has never done.

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A generous man will himself be happy

Generosity is interesting. It brings a blessing and happiness to me.

That happiness takes many forms. The greatest is the joy of doing what our Father desires. He says to give and obedience is its own form of blessing.

The focus of generosity should be on the poor. Solomon challenges us to have a mission with our generosity. Here, we have lots of opportunity for sure.

GOD is generous. He is caring and in a good mood. Always.

Jesus has a goal for us. We are to be generous.

A generous man will himself be happy, for he shares his food with the poor. ~King Solomon Proverbs 22:9 (The Message Bible)

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s desire for His children to show compassion to the poor and needy. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us (Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7). He also said that those who show mercy to the poor, the sick, and the needy are in effect ministering to Him personally (Matthew 25:35–40) and will be rewarded accordingly.

There is no doubt that poverty’s reach is both widespread and devastating. God’s people cannot be indifferent toward those in need, because His expectations for us in regard to taking care of the poor are woven throughout the entirety of Scripture.

  • For example, look at the Master’s words about the goodness of King Josiah in Jeremiah 22:16: “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me, declares the MASTER?”
  • And Moses instructed his people how to treat the poor and needy: “Give generously to [them] and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the MASTER your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to” (Deuteronomy 15:10).
  • This sentiment is perfectly captured in Proverbs 14:31: “Whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

The Cries of the Poor

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. -Proverbs 21:13, KJV

I have pretty much always been a compassionate person. There was a time, however, when I followed a party line and believed the poor must have done something to deserve it.

This is especially crazy knowing my family went through a time when we almost ended up homeless, wondering if there was enough food to feed the five of us each day.

Personal Rebuke

But God sent me a bit of a rebuke, and in late 2007 through early 2008 I spent most nights on the streets of metro-area Phoenix. If you can not learn more compassion for others when alongside them, you are truly hard of heart.

I was fortunate (though my parents worried like crazy), but others may not be.

Throughout Scripture, God sets His expectation for His people: to love the widows, orphans, and the poor.

In the literal understanding, help those who do not have enough. This is loving your neighbor.

Deeper Cries

The deeper understanding is to help those who are spiritually poor. Help them find the truth of who Christ is. Feed their spirit and mind with God’s Word.

To not do so is to condemn them – and yourself – to eternal death and judgment, to cries of the poor who will never find rest. That is why to ignore the cries of the poor will lead to your own crying that will not be heard.

Believe in and share Christ and be saved.


The Poor Difference

The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. -Proverbs 14:20‭-‬21, KJV

There are two different kinds of poor people:

  1. The person who owns little but is responsible and honest: They may be poor in possessions, but also being poor in spirit just means they acknowledge their status and keep striving.
  2. The person who is wasteful and irresponsible: They are poor in possessions, but they are also poor in humility and refuse to accept responsibility for their circumstances. They may even think others owe them.

It is easy to not feel bad (or to strongly dislike or even have hate) for the one who squandered everything and blames others. It is easier to feel sorry for and even be friends with the one who owns little but owns up to their station. (Trust me. I have been there.)

Even a rich person can be poor in humility and therefore be hated.

But God calls us to love the lowly of every type, whether of means or of character. We are not to despise them but show mercy acks kindness.

That may mean a handout (even if we think they may spend or trade it for drugs and alcohol), but it definitely means showing them God’s love, mercy, and grace. For that is what He did for us.


All About Integrity

Proverbs chapter eleven is all about integrity.

What does inegrity entail?

Honesty

Telling the truth and doing what’s right is important. Honesty is life-affirming, acknowledging the image of God in others, and, honestly, keeping life simple. It is easier to keep your story straight when you tell the truth and do what’s right.

Responsibility

Doing what’s right, doing what one ought, is also life-affirming. Sin is most often associated with what we did wrong, but it includes what we don’t do that we should. If we did what was needed when it should be done (right away or when time allows), life would be easier. Owning mistakes is included, as growth comes more quickly. It is irresponsible to shift the blame or hope “someone else will do it.” It is better to do what is right, even if someone else could or should do it.

Generosity

Giving to others or taking up the burden of another demonstrates generosity. And – you probably guessed it – it is life affirming. It shows love to others. It tells others “You are worth it.” It clears up problems before they even exist or before they are out of control.

Living with Integrity

If you want to live with integrity, live out the concepts of Proverbs. Take five minutes and read the entire chapter and see how integrated and interrelated all of these concepts are.

They represent God’s character, and living with integrity makes your character more like His.

“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)


Give, and It Shall Be Given

Proverbs 28:27 

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”

Not the Lottery

Don’t think that by giving a dollar here and there to the poor, like during the Christmas season when you pass by a Salvation Army kettle, that such charity will produce lottery winning-like fruit. There is nothing in this proverb that guarantees you will be rich in return for your philanthropy.

However, the first promise of this proverb (if nothing more than a statement based on general observation) says that the person who gives to the poor will not lack. In other words, don’t worry about your own needs when you give to those less fortunate.

If I have heard it said once, I’ve heard it said thousands of times, “You can’t out-give God.”

Not a Safe Deposit

On the other end of this proverb is another promise. It states that the one who looks away from the poor in order to conserve his own wealth, whether it be commodities of gold or personal energy, will surely pay for his lack of generosity.

Poverty

Poverty (Photo credit: Teo’s photo)

Some people will walk right by a beggar, a person asking for a dollar for food, or even a Salvation Army kettle at Christmas and think to themselves, “I have to hold on to my money.” The only problem with that kind of thinking is that your money is not really your money. And when it comes to not giving in order to save up for a rainy day, the rot of one’s own greed can eat away at any thing stored down here.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

So, as Jesus said, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38 NLT).


Protecting Assets

Proverbs 27:13

“Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.”
“Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.” (NLT)
Taking a Garment

The verse today relates to the previous.

There are many dangers which we must be constantly watching out for.

Whether in business (such as banks) or personal life, we have to make sure we are not being taken advantage of in some of our dealings.

For example, suppose you have a friend who is always helping others financially, and he always asks you for help with a promise to repay. Over time you learn that he never makes good on that promise.

To help in such matters, you can ask him for something valuable as a way of urging him to repay.

This item serves as a reminder of a debt that is owed.

Reminder of the Debt

This passage has little to do with spiritual matters, but there is another debt in our lives that a constant reminder.

In Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we find a list of things called the 10 Commandments. In Romans (specifically chapter 5), Paul tells us that the Law, the 10 Commandments, was given as a reminder of our sin. It shows us how we fail to live up to loving God.

The Law shows us our debt.

Fortunately, our God has shown us grace and forgiveness. He paid our debt by sending His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to live a perfect, sinless life and die on a cross to pay the debt we could not pay.

To receive the full grace and forgiveness He has offered us, we need only believe that Jesus is God made flesh, paid for our sins on the cross, and rose again to life and now lives with the Father awaiting the time to return and redeem His faithful.

Heavenly Father, help us to be good stewards of what You have given us. We admit we are sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. Thank You for offering that grace and forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us the faith we need to live in the light of that truth every day!