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Posted by  in Alms

It was the practise in the early church for those who had an abundance of possessions to sell some of them to give to those in need (Acts 4:34-35, Rom 15:26). It was also the practise of Paul (Acts 24:17, Gal 2:10). Cornelius was a ‘devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always’ Acts 10:2. When an angel came before him he said ‘Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God’ (Acts 10:4) italics added.

Paul:

Timothy was told by Paul to “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. {18} Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. {19} In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”(1 Tim 6:17-19) “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. (Acts 24:17 NIV). All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (Gal 2:10 NIV)


Be content with food and clothing:

In Heb 13:5 we are told to “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” It is our responsibility to keep our lives free from the love of money and to be content with what we have. Contentment was one of the secrets to Paul’s life, he had learned to be content in all situations whether living in plenty or in want (Phil 4:11-12). He also says in 1 Tim 6:8 that we should be content with food and clothing. Many people in the third world have to be content with just that that is all Jesus had. John the Baptist told the soldiers who came to him wanting baptism for repentance to be content with their pay. Many of us need to do the same. In Luke 12:15 Jesus tells us to “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

James:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

You cannot take it with you:

You cannot take your money with you when you die, but you can send it on ahead of you by giving alms.

(Révélation 14:13) Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.

When we die our deeds will follow us as Rev 14:13 reminds us.

The wealth-and-prosperity doctrine:

A wealth-and-prosperity doctrine is afoot today, especially in the protestant churches, shaped by the half truth that says, “We glorify God with our money by enjoying thankfully all the things he enables us to buy. Why should a son of the King live like a pauper?” And so on. The true half of this is that we should give thanks for every good thing God enables us to have. That does glorify him. The false half is the subtle implication that God can be glorified in this way by all kinds of luxurious purchases.

If this were true, Jesus would not have said, “Sell your possessions and give alms” (Luke 12:33). He would not have said, “Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink” (Luke 12:29). John the Baptist would not have said, “He who has two coats, let him share with who has none” (Luke 3:11). The Son of Man would not have walked around with no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). And Zacchaeus would not have given half his goods to the poor (Luke 19:8).

God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves (no matter how thankfully) what we ought to be using to alleviate the misery of unevangelized, uneducated, unmedicated, and unfed millions. The evidence that many professing Christians have been deceived by this doctrine is how little they give and how much they own. God has prospered them. And by an almost irresistible law of consumer culture (baptized by a doctrine of health, wealth, and prosperity) they have bought bigger (and more) houses, newer (and more) cars, fancier (and more) clothes, better (and more) meat, and all manner of trinkets and gadgets and containers and devices and equipment to make life more fun.

They will object: Does not the Old Testament promise that God will prosper his people? Indeed! God increases our yield so that by giving we can prove our yield is not our god. God does not prosper a man’s business so he can move from a Ford to a Cadillac. God prospers a business so that 17,000 unreached peoples can be reached with the gospel. He prospers a business so that twelve percent of the world’s population can move a step back from the precipice of starvation. (Quoted from Desiring God by John Piper)

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