It seems that one should give to someone without question, and that would be it. This was my initial thought. I fought with this idea in Costa Rica in an extended exposure to poverty. I was eager to obey God in everything and especially in this, but I was torn by reason.
My reason told me that some giving was bad. It was obvious to me but the scriptures didn’t elaborate explicitly on this issue and simply spoke of giving. Yet, I was neglecting the proverbs and the New Testament admonition for a believer to work.

Proverbs mentions the laziness of fools; that they will come to ruin. The New Testament says having nothing to do with a believer who won’t work.

The key to all of this is the word “need.” Need is different than want or even need that comes from personal neglect of the individual to care for themselves

Give with wisdom. For example, I may give to someone who has been negligent but it will come with admonishment. I may give to a fool but I will teach them and warn them that next time, I may not, if they do not remedy the problem.

Sometimes, I will give to someone in times of need but not all. It depends on the person and how diligent they are, how they spend their money, and their means.

The neophyte, as I mentioned that I was, feels inclined to give under every circumstance independent of the wisdom aforementioned. To add to their first mistake, they judge others who do not. They consider themselves more spiritual; more loving. This kind of giving is self-serving in the end. One can give and get busy patting themselves on the back but if it does not advance the misdeeds of the recipient it is tor the recipients detriment.

Notice that many times when someone is in “need” they haven’t done all they could do to help themselves. They are spending more than they aught, they have things to sell, they have bills they can get rid of to free up money, and they have low paying jobs because they will not advance their career. Why have others give to you if you haven’t done all you could do for yourselves?

Interesting is the scripture of how to treat the widow on 1 Tim 5:3-16. It guides the church only to give to a certain widow. First the family is responsible and then the church but only if she has been an exemplary Christian woman and now where in scripture does it mention a widower. So you see the wisdom in giving and that it isn’t indiscriminant.

Borrowing money often happens also. And this requires the same kind of analysis. Most borrowed money is by people who are personally negligent.

Now one may say that Jesus said to give to any who asks. Great point but this doesn’t negate giving in wisdom, he is only stating not to be discriminating against people because of various biases. Give in equality not just to friends and family but to others outside your circle and even enemies.

All this is good news for those who will not give because they are looking to keep their money. However, this isn’t who I want to focus on. I’m attempting mature the Christian still living in the grasp of ignorance; the trap of the misjudgments of the foolish neophyte in the faith.


  1. Cliff,

    I appreciate what you have shared here on ‘when’ to give and recognize there is some wisdom in your words.

    One point of concern I took away from your advice was that it acknowledged no place for our interaction with the Spirit in determining when/where to invest the Lord’s resources. I suspect this was an unintentional oversight and hope you will edit the original post or write again on this subject soon to bridge the delta left by this omission.

    Lance Howle

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