Kent Brandenburg says he ‘…was talking to a man this week who said he wanted to be in a church that gave feet to the love of Jesus, something like that. His example was that this church, which he joined, even though he didn’t like its doctrine, helped the homeless. The homeless is a relatively new term in the history of our country. Why are there so many who are homeless? Who are the homeless? What should churches do? What responsibility should they take?
We live in a day when it is important to understand what is “good” and what is really a “help.” Just because a man might say it’s good does not mean that it is, and just because he says it is a help does not mean that it is a help. The key is that we must be discerning. We must determine our answer to this question by means of the Word of God, and not by a societal norm.
Man is by nature deceived. At least forty times in the Bible we are warned about being deceived. Eve was deceived by Satan, and Satan is the great deceiver. The ways of man are the ways of death, and God tells us not to lean on our own understanding.
Help is alright. Scripture calls God a Helper (Hebrews 13:6). Eve was a help to Adam (Genesis 2:18). One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that edify the church is “helps” (1 Corinthians 12:28). Also, God wants us to do good. The terminology, “do good,” is found 26 times in the Bible. However, in Isaiah 5:20, people will call evil good, and good evil. Someone can be deceived about what good is. In Romans 7:21, Paul says, “when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Just because someone says something is a help and it is good doesn’t meant that it is.
Proverbs 3:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” At the same time, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 say, “21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Things must be proven as to whether they are good and not evil.
God is the definition of good. Seven times scripture says, “the Lord is good.” Psalm 52:1 says, “the goodness of God endureth continually.” Whatever God’s Word says about anything is good: any person or any situation.
For instance, one might think it is always good to pray for someone. 1 John 5:16 says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” God doesn’t want everyone prayed for. It’s not always good. It doesn’t always help.
Is benevolence always good? 1 Corinthians 13:3 shows that not if done for selfish reasons. Proverbs 11:4 shows that benevolence is not good if intended to make one righteous, because riches do not profit in the day of wrath. Is suffering itself bad? Genesis 50:20 says that with Joseph, God meant it to me for good. Is sickness bad? John 11:4 says that this sickness is to the glory of God. We can’t assume that all suffering and all sickness is bad. God uses sickness and suffering. It’s not always right to alleviate either.
When it comes to helping people, it’s not always good or always a help to give someone something. The lazy should not be given anything. Laziness is self-imposed bondage (Proverbs 12:24). Giving the lazy person something is to reward laziness, so that you get more laziness. The lazy are neglectful (Ecclesiastes 10:18) and unproductive (Matthew 25:26-30). God won’t give to the lazy and we should follow God.
Scripture shows that God brings famine on the wicked (Deuteronomy 28:15, 33, 38, 42, 51; Ezekiel 5:17, 30:12; Jeremiah 8:13). God doesn’t keep giving good crops to a nation that is wicked. The wicked people don’t learn not to be wicked by being wicked without repentance. God gets the attention through the famine, through the hunger. Feeding takes away the motive to turn to God. This principle can and should be applied to the individual as well. Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” You can tell whether someone is lazy or if he won’t work if he’s in the church. In the church, this is a matter of church discipline. Outside the church, you don’t know.
Hunger is a motivation to turn to God. David wrote in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” The alternative is also true. The unrighteous are forsaken and begging for bread. Should they be given bread without being righteous?
The welfare system of Israel in the Old Testament didn’t just give to people. When you read Ruth, you can see that Boaz left the corners of the field for this widow to reap. Even the two widows, Naomi and Ruth. This fits Leviticus 23:22, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.” Just giving food for no work is not only not taught in the Bible, but taught against. How about this? “I’ll give you a job.” But it’s not just that. If this person is not a good worker, should he or she stay employed, and should we reward him for not providing righteous labor? This would be rewarding wickedness.
All of the reasons that I’ve given above about giving food or money to the homeless relates to the priorities seen in scripture. 1 John 3:17 says, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” This is seeing a “brother” in need. This isn’t seeing just anyone in need. Within the church, where the brothers are, there is accountability to why there is this need. Someone can ask, is it the direct result of sin? Are we rewarding the sin? Is it because of laziness? We can know that through the accountability of a church.
Even in the church, not everyone is taken care of. Not every widow would be taken care of by a church. Read 1 Timothy 5. The priority is that a family takes care of their own family members. When we give money to someone, when the family should be doing that, then the family is shirking that responsibility. 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
The problems in a society continue because people do not obey God in what He says about these things. Matthew 4:4 gives a clue. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The opposite is the expectation to live, to survive without the Word of God.
Say this to a homeless person: “Come to our church, show that you love the Word of God, that you want God, that you want the grace of God, and the church will see that desire and will help you. God will help you.” See what the reaction is. James 4:6 says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” The humble get God’s grace. God resists the proud. God will send those who resist His grace to Hell. Will we make these homeless more comfortable in their pride? Is this is what God does?
The foolish have wasted opportunities (Proverbs 6:9,10) and brought poverty on themselves (Proverbs 10:4). This is the drug addict or the boozer. We first help them get saved. Jesus provided one meal in John 6, a very sensible, humble meal. Then He offered His audience the bread of life. They rejected. He didn’t keep feeding them. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Teach all nations.” Make disciples. In the realm of help, making disciples is teaching someone to fish, so to speak, rather than just giving them fish. God wants followers. He wants people living for His kingdom. You don’t get to that goal by feeding them. You’ve got to expect them to follow first or you are not really helping them.
For the most part, this issue is living like God is right, trusting Him, believing what He says. It’s like when Saul offered the sacrifice and kept Agag and the animals alive in 1 Samuel 13. He had a better idea than God. There is a way that seems right to man (Proverbs 14:12). Someone may ask, “Don’t you want to feed the hungry?” The hungry will be fed forever in the kingdom and eternal state, and eternal satisfaction of hunger is more important than the temporal. Even on this earth, the real problem isn’t solved by giving food. It might not seem like it, but that is the easy way and the wrong way for reasons described already in this essay.
Most organizations that are about “feeding the hungry,” “giving to the poor,” and “housing the homeless” do not have scriptural quality control. They don’t care about the biblical principles. In most ways, they are proud that they are not scriptural or godly. They are not taking into consideration laziness, wickedness, what’s going on with the family, among other areas addressed above. They very often cannot because they are tied into a government that requires acceptance or toleration of the sin. Acceptance, association, and affiliation give accommodation. Sin is to be reproved and the institutions would not allow sin to be reproved (Ephesians 5:11). One of the ways they get more funds is through disobedience to what God said. The best someone can do for a society is do all he can do in a church without association with these organizations. Why do they not like the church? Why do they not like righteousness?
It’s good to become individually involved in the lives of other people in a biblical way, one-on-one. Do what Jesus did. Do what the apostles did. Help those people to help people in the same way, so that multiplication occurs.
Especially millennials want to be seen as “helping” the poor. They often promote themselves before others for doing so. I’m sure some, albeit few, are well-intentioned. It brings glory in this culture to be seen to care by giving money for temporal things. They know you won’t get credit for obeying God. That’s living by faith. They are walking by sight, not by faith. Many of them aren’t true believers themselves.
Everything I’m writing here is true. Someone isn’t doing good or helping by denying the truth. It’s also vanity. It’s a waste of time and energy and resources. God wants us to be good stewards, faithful and wise stewards (Luke 12:42).’https://kentbrandenburg.com/2021/02/17/giving-food-and-money-to-the-homeless/