Tuesday, January 14, 2014


He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy (Titus 3:5).

Charity is bad.  That’s how most people feel, anyway.  It’s bad to give charity because it makes the recipient dependent on the generosity of others instead of learning to stand on his own two feet.  It’s bad to accept charity because when you pocket a handout it shows that you’re a failure who can’t make it on your own.

Charity is bad because much of it is simply wasted.  Many people abuse government assistance, using our tax dollars to purchase luxury items and things they don’t really need.  When donations are sent to the needy in foreign countries, corrupt government officials take a large portion for themselves.  Organizations that raise funds for the poor often use a large percentage of their donations for administrative costs and advertising.

Yes, charity is bad.  That’s the message we are raised with.  Each person must earn his own way; wealth is evidence of success and being poor means you aren’t trying hard enough.  We accept the adage that “God helps those who help themselves”.

But that statement does not come from Holy Scripture.  That’s a human idea.  The Bible teaches that charity is a fundamental part of each Christian life.  From God’s perspective, we are all charity cases.  This is because we are helpless addicts to sin.  We can’t stop thinking inappropriate thoughts, saying hurtful things, or behaving irresponsibly.  We cannot impress God by our feeble attempts to be perfect as He expects and demands us to be.  The only way that we can enter heaven is by being carried in Jesus’ loving arms.  He gave His life to achieve our forgiveness, paying the penalty we deserve for being sinners.  We did nothing to deserve this wonderful gift—that makes us charity cases of the highest order.

We are expected to give charity as well.  When He described Judgment Day, Jesus spoke of rewards for those who fed the hungry and gave clothing to the poor.  If it pleases God when we give charity, then it is certainly God-pleasing to accept charity.  In fact, people who refuse Jesus’ free offer of grace, thinking they must earn their own way to a happily ever after, will find themselves shut out of heaven when they leave this world.  Christianity is all about charity—God’s charity to us, and our charity to each other.

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