I can’t for the life of me understand why any doctrine in the Bible spoken of more than twice can be ignored. Baptists are just notorious for failure to give alms. Which is bizarre, as the Baptists are indeed the heirs of the original church, and they understood almsgiving and charity readily.
And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Lev 25:35 (KJV)
I understand that they are wary of the Socialist Gospel (Which is a false Gospel, based largely upon a denial of the future Millennium, the Return of Christ and a ‘Kingdom now’ theology)… but there’s 17 specific commands to give to the poor – and most are in the New Testament.
7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: Deut 15:7 (KJV)
Could it be that one reason that our Fundamentalist churches are empty is because we shut our hand to the poor? We should be helping. However, two caveats must be in place for any food pantry or charity:
They must be trying to get employment. I can’t understand why so many able-bodied people are fully disabled. “I’m on disability.” No doubt. But you look like you could cook in a restaurant, or work the counter in a 7-11 or a Wa-Wa. Christian Charity should not be an excuse for a con artist to live work-free. This does not include former cancer patients… the bone-crushing fatigue some people experience the rest of their lives from the chemotherapy is literally crippling. Even sitting at a cash register for hours could be brutal for some of them. These are the kind of people for whom disability is intended. Not a 35 year old man who just wants a free handout.
Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. 1 Tim 5:3-4 (KJV)
They must be trying to change their situation. I used to have a lot of sympathy for the homeless. I still do. However, in one summer, I will say I did not meet a single homeless person that was not homeless of their choosing. Every person I met or saw that summer was the stereotypical bum – living on the streets, panhandling for booze, and the occasional meal. Often they “dumpster-dove” to find the next meal. All of this out of choice. Amazing, but true.
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Isaiah 58:6-7 (KJV)
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Matt 5:42 (KJV)
Who knows how many times our Father has sent a person in need to come to our churches, and has been turned away? How many times has this been a test to determine our obedience, a chance for us to earn rewards… and we showed our true stripes by turning away the needy, not giving to those who asked, and shutting our hand to the poor?
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Matt 6:1-4 (KJV)
There can be NO DENIAL that almsgiving is a Biblical requirement. It is just as Biblical as Tithe. The same argument that can be used in support of tithe can be used in support of Almsgiving. (its interesting that some who stubbornly and perversely refuse to pay tithe often have no problem giving that 10% charity! However, your gift to the poor, while commendable, is not the Tithe. The Tithe is required to provide for the Pastor and the local Church.
But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. Luke 11:41 (KJV)
So members of the congregation should be encouraged to give to charity. Like the Jewish tradition of the Pushke, the charity box. One can be set up in the house, and any extra cash can be dropped into that, and brought to the church once a month, and placed in the Benevolence fund, or a bigger Pushke, or what have you (No, I’m not trying to turn Christians into Jews! but why has this been neglected for so long?)
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:32-34 (KJV)