One of the things that makes America great is that we are good planners. We plan for our retirement, we plan for our house to burn down, we plan for what will happen if our spouse dies. We have a fallback in place in case of (almost) every financial emergency. We care so much about our financial security that we have made our government establish safety net programs to help us when we are unable to help ourselves. We have social security, Medicare, and unemployment aid available to us if we need it.
Most of these programs and insurance policies were not available two thousand years ago when the New Testament was written. As a result, people had to rely on each other much more for help. For instance, people did not have a 401(k) or social security to provide them with money for retirement. So the only way they survived when they were old was if they had children to look out for them.
Today is different. We do not depend on each other for putting food in our stomachs or a roof over our head as much as people did back then.
Nevertheless, the Biblical command to help each other in times of trouble still applies. Even today there are many unforeseen disasters that can strike at someone’s pocketbooks unexpectedly. True Christians are commanded by God to open up their wallets for others when the need arises.
The Apostle John puts it this way:
“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (I John 3:17).
That’s a good question! Obviously it is rhetorical. You cannot really say that you love God if you refuse or hesitate to help your brother who is in need.
Americans, by and large, are fairly compassionate people: American Christians even more so. Many of you who are reading this article are no doubt nodding your heads in agreement as you scan this page. You probably give a lot of money to your church and other organizations that spread the gospel and help the poor.
However, the point of this article is that sometimes we need to do more than that. There are times when we need to go beyond our planned, regular giving to the Lord. We need to help out a brother who is in need whenever the situation arises, even if we do not have advance warning. So let’s be careful not to hoard our money greedily when we find out that someone else needs it much more than we do. We need to remember that our vacation funds and our rainy day funds do not belong to us anyway.
They belong to God.