Leviticus 19:9-10 – “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10’Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.” NASU
Unfortunately, in today’s world, the word charity has taken on a somewhat negative meaning, at times and has been maligned and morphed from its origination and intent. Many of us are bombarded with pleas from Charities or Charitable Organizations for donations or volunteerism. Some Charities are in such administrative imbalance that little of the monies donated reach the intended cause. Some are fraudulent scams making an appeal for something with no intention of ever fulfilling the declared purpose. Some are incredibly upright and worthy of consideration. But, by and large, when we hear the word charity it does not always produce a compassionate thought in our minds.
I’ve had people that I or the church wanted to help become angry and declare, “I don’t accept charity.” Biblical Charity is more than benevolence it is rooted in love. Love for people and love for God. It is also rooted in faith and trust. Charity not to be confused with a Charitable organization but the act of charity is to bestow gratuitously to the needy or suffering to bring about a measure of relief. It can be far more than money because it is by definition an act of kindness.
Those of us that have been burned by Charitable Organizations and discovered that little, if any of what we gave, actually reached its intended target have an automatic red flag when we are petitioned to give. That is, unless. Unless what? Unless we adopt some principles and practices in our giving. First, we should always pray about giving, where we give, and what we give. I treat giving to a charitable cause the same as I do business deals. I have found that if it is deemed too pressing to allow me time to pray about it, I probably do not need to do the deal. God has prevented me from makings some colossal mistakes following that prescription both in business and in giving.
Here in Leviticus and throughout the Scriptures, we find God’s heart and attitude toward Charity. This principle can be applied to every business venture and endeavor in our lives. We are to plan for giving to the poor and needy. We can be conscious of the needy or we can be greedy, but we cannot be both.
I had someone tell me that this principle was an Old Testament principle and not applicable in the New Testament. I quoted them a seldom quoted passage from Hebrews 13:6, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” In Proverbs 19:17 we are reminded that “Whoever is generous with the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed.” Of course, we would be remiss if we did not cite Luke 6:38 and 2 Corinthians 9:6 regarding giving. Giving is God’s idea and plan for demonstrating His heart.
I preached on charity and had someone come to me afterward to challenge me and tell me that because I espoused conservative political views my message and my politics were a contradiction. This person, as many have, insisted that if I truly believed in caring for the poor I would want the government to implement programs of benevolence and welfare.
Not to become political in a devotional let me say, “It is our individual responsibility and the church’s responsibility to care for the poor, not human government.” If we as families, caring individuals, churches, and even communities followed the directives of Scripture, there would be no need for the government to become people’s source of sustenance.
There is a truth that is missed in most arguments on either side of that equation but was practiced in the New Testament Church and visible in the Old Testament. That truth was expressed by the apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 where he instructed the church about giving and personal responsibility. It was a message of tough love. He said, “…if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat…”
We are not responsible or required to feed laziness. In fact, the idea is that if you do you are violating God’s basic principles of life and responsibility. Remember it was this same apostle who said, in his instructions to his son in the faith, in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever or infidel.” That is pointed, isn’t it?
Giving to the needy touches the heart of God like few other things we do. I have developed a practice in giving to have the attitude that I am not giving to a particular person or cause but to God. I give as directed by the Spirit of God and once I have given I release it to God and if the person or organization I have given to misuses it, that is God’s responsibility. I almost said, God’s Problem but God doesn’t have problems, He only has problem children.
I’ve heard it said virtually all of my Christian life that you cannot out give God and that is an absolute truth. However, trying to can be fun and is certainly an interesting journey. I could relate many incidences where my giving resulted in something so far beyond my expectation I was astounded. I have experienced God engineering situations and people to not only supply my needs but also my wants.
I am not suggesting that you make the reason for your charity what you will receive but I also do not want to remove it from the equation because God doesn’t. I had a man who was generous beyond words and an incredibly successful businessman tell me that his philosophy was, “I give to get to get to give.” His view was that God owns it all and he is simply a steward of what does not belong to him so when he gives he is not giving away his money but God’s money. He would laugh and say, “It’s easy to give away other people’s money.
What is your need? Is there an area of lack in your life? Have you grown complacent in your walk and relationship with God? Do you want the fires of revival and the presence of God restored and renewed in your life? Let me suggest that one of the ways to press into those promises is through Generosity! Stop eating your seed and plant them. Read Luke 6:38 again and again until one word leaps off the page and explodes in your spirit. What is that word? IT. Give and IT shall be given to you. Read on and you discover that it is a multiplication of the IT you gave.
God bless you as you embark on a new journey in Christ!