According to the bible, helping others is a very tangible, practical way to express God’s love. We can’t be so focused on “getting more” that we miss chances to serve other people.
We must understand that it is God who supplies our needs, and we have to stop trusting in our possessions. Those who are wealthy have to be very careful in that area. That is why God gives these instructions to them:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. ~ 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Being “generous and ready to share” isn’t just a command for the rich. Hebrews 13:16 tells us:
And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
There are two main ways that we can disobey this command.
Trusting in riches more than God:
As 1 Timothy 6:17 says, we are “not to be conceited or fix [our] hope on the uncertainty of riches“. Trusting in our riches can make us not want to help others in two ways.
First, we may fall victim to what the bible calls “the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) – a strong feeling of pride over our accomplishments and possessions. This may cause you to feel as though the needy person is just lazy and needs to work harder in order to better themselves. You may look down on them because you had to work hard to “earn” what you have, and you feel that they should do the same.
Second, we sometimes can gain a false security from having money. In these cases, it will be very difficult to part with our money or possessions in order to help someone else. We may start to think, “if I give money to someone who won’t be able to pay me back, what will I do if I get hit with an emergency?”.
However, if we are trusting in God to provide for us, we will be willing to give without the fear that we will have no provision for the future!
Overlooking small ways to be a blessing:
Life can be so busy and distracting that it can be easy to overlook those in need. Oftentimes, we can be can be so caught up in ourselves that we neglect to be helpful to others.
Many times as Christians, we are searching for huge ways to show God’s love to others! We have visions of doing grand things such as adopting a child, or flying to Haiti (or some other country) and helping out with disaster relief.
However, small, personal sacrifices are what pleases God and impacts our brothers!
James 2:15-16 gives a good example of that point:
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
Here James is showing how faith and good works should coexist in a Christian’s life. Our good works should flow out of our faith; and a life without them is a good indication of a lack of faith!
He doesn’t use being a missionary, selling all your goods in order to support poor Christians, or even taking in orphans! Instead he uses as an example a brother or sister who is in need of the very basics of life.
We must never overlook those who are close to us in search of some “greater calling”; if God’s love is in our heart, we will seek to help even “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40)!
In 1 John 3:17 we find these words:
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
This isn’t a verse that needs a lot of explanation. If you have something, and your brother (another Christian) is in need and you refuse to help, this is a good indication that the love of God isn’t in you!
Those of us who were blessed to have more than enough to meet our basic needs, should always be willing to share with others who are not.
Much more could be said on the subject, but I just wanted to share a thought that was on my heart.
A few questions for you:
Have any of these stumbling blocks stopped you from giving to someone in need?
What are some ways that you defeat pride in your life?
Do you incorporate helping others into your budgets and other financial planning?
Have you even been the recipient of this sort of help?
What has motivated you to help others?