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The Two “Who’s” of Giving

I’ve shared the four goals of giving, which speaks to HOW we give. Seeing other people, and caring for their needs. Freeing ourselves up to give, and give a lot. Making sure the gift is a blessing, not a curse.

But who should we give to?

It’s easy. Anyone who needs help.

Because that’s exactly who Jesus came to serve.

Early in the book of Luke, Jesus spends 40 days battling Satan in the wilderness. You’d think he might choose to take a vacation next, but instead He walks to his hometown and starts mixing things up in the synagogues. He’s taking on religious leaders that would have known him since he was just the carpenter’s son.

In chapter 4, Jesus enters another synagogue and is handed an excerpt from the book of Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he reads aloud this passage:

  • “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,  because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…”

Then he just stops, mid-sentence, rolls up the scroll and sits down. All eyes are on him, waiting for some explanation. Then Jesus drops the mic.

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

These people knew this passage from Isaiah was a prophecy, and Jesus saying it was now “fulfilled” was Him claiming to be the Messiah it spoke of. He stirred them up so much they eventually drove him out to the edge of a cliff, but then He casually walks THROUGH THEM like a ghost and “went on his way” like nothing happened.

In my life, I’d heard a ton about the 40 days in the wilderness, and even a little bit about the Nightcrawler move at the cliff. However, not much was said in Sunday school about the scene in-between. What struck me now was the passage he read from, Isaiah 61. If you’ve boarded the Maverick City Music bandwagon, you might recognize the lyrics to their song Jubilee. It’s straight out of this passage.

Notice who the people the Scripture says the Messiah will align himself with. Who will benefit most from his appearance?  “Good news to the poor.” “Freedom for the prisoners.” “Sight for the blind.” “Set free the oppressed.

Jesus claimed the throne by telling the religious leaders who he was here for… hurting people.

Then he went and actually helped them. Most of his miracles were for those exact same people. Healing the blind. Casting out demons. Giving the lame their legs back. Even feeding thousands of hungry people.

But he didn’t decide to handle it himself; he also told us to go do it as well.

  •  “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:30-31 
  •  “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” Matthew 6:4-5 
  •  “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.Luke 12:32-34 
  • “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” Luke 14:12-14
  • And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” John 3:5-6 
  • When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35
  • The parable of the Good Samaritan. “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25:37
  • Talking to the rich young ruler. ““You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mark 10:17-22
  • “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:34-40 

It wasn’t just Jesus who said it (although that should be enough). I’ve found over 40 verses across the Bible that deal with generosity to people in need. These are the people Scripture calls out for us to help:

  1. Poor
  2. Widows
  3. Orphans
  4. Prisoners
  5. Crippled
  6. Strangers
  7. Lame
  8. Blind
  9. Needy
  10. Hungry
  11. Thirsty
  12. Beggars
  13. Naked
  14. Oppressed

Do you see anyone in your life who needs help? Do you have resources, gifts, or even some time to help someone like this?

I personally have felt convicted in this area. It seems so simple: Go help hurting people. Why is that so hard? Maybe it’s because I’ve become comfortable letting someone else handle it. Leaving it up to our church for benevolence, or being fine writing a check to the Red Cross.

But I can’t help but wonder if I’m abdicating the responsibility God is giving to me.

That leads us to the 2nd Who. Who should give? YOU.

Most of the verses I’ve found speak to the individual rather than corporate giving. “Whoever.” “When you give…” “The one who showed mercy…” “You go…” This passage from 1 John in particular hit me hard.

  • “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:14-18

I shouldn’t see a need nearby and do nothing. When a coworker is battling disease, or a family loses everything in a flood, or someone is let go from a job, or a single mom needs groceries, or a homeless person asks for money… I should be compelled to give myself.

Give to the church and nonprofits that do good. One of our favorite things is to contribute monthly to the Dollar Club at our church, where we all put in an extra dollar and then they go out and meet a single need in the community. There’s power in crowdfunding generosity. But by itself, it’s not enough. There is a personal responsibility for me to help when a person who needs help comes my way.

That’s why, as a family, we created a “spirit leads” fund as part of our generosity strategy. So with the total giving we plan each month, we portion part of it to be ready to give spontaneously when the opportunity arrives. We still do monthly commitments to church, organizations, and other people. But honestly, the things that happen when “the spirit leads” is some of the most life-giving. They come in unexpectedly, and sometimes for just the amount we have.

If there is one generosity practice I could push you to adopt it would be this. Call it whatever you want, but plan to be spontaneously generous to people in need. Jesus’ kind of people.

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