To Give or Not to Give

Keeping Balance in Our Christianity  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Trying to discern when it is good to give to the needy, and when it is harmful.

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Nearly every week, we get phone messages here at the church building from people who want us to pay their utility bills, give them holiday food, or just give them money. Is that the role of Christians and/or local churches?

I) Few easy answers

Some are quick to answer this is not the work of the local church – – or have a formal application process for those who might be Christians
2 Corinthians 9:12–13 ESV
For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,
But that is not the complete answer – ;
John 12:5–8 ESV
“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
1 Timothy 6:17–19 ESV
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
What about beggars on street corners or parking lots? What about those who seek food and bills and we tell them it not the work of the local church?

II) Jesus feeding 5000

Multitudes followed Jesus to a remote location –
Mark 6:31–33 ESV
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
Jesus felt compassion on their need and fed them spiritual food – – and healed their sick –
Mark 6:34 ESV
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
Luke 9:11 ESV
When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.
The disciples appear to be interested in dinner arrangements –
Luke 9:12–13 ESV
Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.”
The next day, they multitudes follow Jesus to Capernaum –
John 6:22–25 ESV
On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
Jesus does not feed them now

III) How do we know which to choose?

They followed Jesus at first because of His signs – ;
John 6:2 ESV
And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.
Hebrews 2:3–4 ESV
how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
The next day they followed Jesus because of the food –
John 6:26 ESV
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
Jesus corrects their motivation back to the power of God –
John 6:27 ESV
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Gospel calls people out of this world into the kingdom of Christ –
Colossians 1:13–14 ESV
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Making people more comfortable in this world will not bring them closer to salvation – (Sid Latham)
Acts 3:2–6 ESV
And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
It is better to give than receive – ;
Acts 20:35 ESV
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Ephesians 4:28 ESV
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
But one who is unwilling to work should not be fed – – suffering can be a great teacher
2 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
Concl: If you were expecting me to give you a definite formula to know when to give and when not to give, you are disappointed. If you expected me to give you a ready-made excuse to avoid giving when you don’t want to, God is disappointed. But perhaps we can consider these points to have some wisdom to discern when it is good and when it is bad.
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