Whom Shall I Help?

Whom Shall I Help?

Donald L. Norbie

In the mail today, as so often happens, there were a number of letters from Christian workers and organizations. As you opened the letters one by one, urgent voices clamoured for your attention. A movement among students pleads for your greater interest and help. Pathetic, poverty-stricken faces peer at you from photographs, eloquently pleading, “Give!” A hospital needs help; an orphanage is in dire straits: a native worker may give up unless you give. Every letter has a moving message of need. A radio program is behind in its payments. The list seems endless…?

Yet your resources are limited. You do love the Lord and have in the secret chambers of your heart agreed to give a certain proportion of your income to the work of God. Now comes the question: To whom shall I give? My income is limited; I cannot give to all.

One must be realistic. He cannot support every work carried on in the Name of Christ. He can thank God for each one who proclaims the Gospel in simplicity without feeling an obligation to give to each. The motives and methods of these preachers are myriad. To whom should one give? What are some principles to guide in giving?

First of all, the Christian should feel a primary responsibility for the work of the local assembly of which he is a part. This is the basic unit of Christian fellowship and is absolutely vital to the work of God. Scripture describes the local church as “the pillar and ground (support) of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). If this is true and you are convinced that the assembly in which you fellowship is God’s work, then give it your best, both in time and in finances. Most of your giving will likely be here. In fact, many do all of their giving in this way, even designating gifts to workers through the local assembly treasury.

In deciding which work to support aside from your assembly, what are factors to consider? First of all, what principles guide the work? Are they principles which governed God’s work in New Testament days? Is the goal to see souls saved and then gathered together in the simplicity of the early church? “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22). Be sure you give to a work that is marked by obedience to God’s Word. There is much loose thinking along this line today. Many think an evangelistic work should be supported regardless of its methods. Is this God’s estimate of obedience?

What do you know of the moral character of the worker? Recently in California a nationally known radio evangelist was shot to death in a motel room by an enraged, jealous husband with whose wife he had been having an affair. Yet sincere people across the land had sent in their offerings of hard-earned money in response to his pleas for help while he drank his vodka and lived in adultery. There are still those who make merchandise of the Gospel (2 Cor. 2:17). Let us give to those whose lives commend the Gospel.

Is the work carried on in genuine faith in the Living God? So much of what is called faith work today is no more along faith lines than the United Fund, unless it be faith in the generosity of human nature. Advertising is regarded as the key to success in Christian work. Competition is keen for the Christian’s dollar.

True faith carries on in silence as to its needs. There is a dignity about the pathway of faith. Here is one who walks in simple dependence upon the God of Heaven. He will not cheapen His God by begging and advertising his needs. Paul could say, “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel” (Acts 20:33). Paul would work with his hands rather than cheapen the Gospel by soliciting funds.

When the servant of God sees his supplies dwindle even as Elijah watched the brook dry up, his only recourse is his God. He may cry to God in prayer from a heart tortured by misgivings and doubts, but before man his lips utter no word. He is committed to a pathway of silence as far as mentioning his needs to others. God knows and this is enough.

Perhaps the giver says, “But if I only knew the needs!” Is not the God who called the servant able to impress upon your heart the one to whom you should give? But this requires exercised prayer. It is always easier to read some letter pleading for funds and then write out a check. Shame on us for spiritual laziness.

How much should I give? Why not consider the worker’s circumstances? Is he married? Does he have children? Does he have special needs, perhaps hospital expense? Where does he labour, in pioneer work or established assemblies? Consider these things before giving.

Why not pray the Lord to lay upon your heart one or more workers at home and abroad that you may strengthen their hands? Write to them; get to know them. Get their picture; pray for them. Interweave your life with theirs so that you truly share with them in the work of God. Then as you pray God is able to burden your heart as to your giving. As you do this you will discover that the Word is true: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).