Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.
(Philippians 4:14-17 ESV)
Yesterday we read how God wants us to be givers. When we give our money to help people it demonstrates care and concern for others. Giving is a selfless act and a selfless heart is what God is trying to develop in us.
But this does not mean that we are to give our money to whomever we like. We are to give to those who are serving Christ, as Paul was.
Paul was by trade a tent-maker [Acts 18:3]. Once he was called by God [Acts 9] he gave up that trade as a full-time profession in order to study God’s word and teach others. But Paul still needed money to meet his daily living expenses. And although he returned to tent-making part-time when necessary [1 Thessalonians 2:9], he was primarily supported by donations from believers in churches he had planted.
Those who teach God’s word need to be supported. That support comes primarily from those people they teach. This means that believers should be giving money to the church they attend in order to support their pastors. The money we give to our church will also be used for programs to teach children and adults, and to support missionaries and evangelistic charities.
This does not mean that we can’t give any money to other causes. Giving a homeless person a few dollars is not a sin. Nor is sending a check to a charity that fights cancer or rescues animals. Helping others in general is good and God wants us to do that. But certainly we need to be careful when it comes to some charities that seem to be doing good.
A few years ago the Susan G. Komen organization, which allegedly supported breast-cancer research, revealed that it was funnelling some of its donations to Planned Parenthood to pay for abortions. Needless to say, no Christian should be giving money to Susan G. Komen.
Giving money to non-Christian charities can be an evangelistic opportunity. There is only one non-Christian charity I donate to – Operation Smile. But when I send them a check I always send it in a Christian “Thank you” card and I write a note thanking them for the work they are doing to help God’s children.
God does not give us money to improve our lifestyle. Certainly life may necessitate that at some point we buy a bigger house or a new car. But we should do this out of necessity not out of desire. Nor does God want us to live in poverty. He wants us to have enough food and other things we need to survive. He also commands us to save up money for the future [Proverbs 6:8; Proverbs 21:20].
But beyond that, our money should be used to support those who teach us and to bring other people into His kingdom.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.
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