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Charity and Work Ethic

by Mark Nickles  
2/12/2020 / Christian Living


            The Bible is very clear on giving to the needy, pointing out God’s concern for the poor, and His desire that Christians be front and center when it comes to charitable actions. However, the Bible also teaches that each individual is responsible to work, to the best of their ability. Let’s look at both subjects from a scriptural standpoint. We will hear primarily from Proverbs, which is considered wisdom literature.

            In Proverbs 19, verse 17, we read, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward him for what he has done.” The Hebrew word for “lend” doesn’t only mean to lend, but also to unite or join with something or someone. In other words, the person who has compassion on the poor and helps to provide in their time of need is exercising behavior with which God agrees. Additionally, Proverbs 22:9 says that a generous man will be blessed because “he shares his food with the poor.” God desires us to help those in need.

            However, God’s word also strongly endorses a healthy work ethic. Proverbs 10:4 tells us, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” What’s more, Ecclesiastes 6:19 states that being happy in one’s work is one of God’s gifts to us. And in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, the apostle Paul gave the following rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

            There can be no doubt that the Bible instructs us in compassion for those who are down on their luck, physically limited, lacking in material goods, or all three. And, we can be equally confident that it instructs EVERYONE to work, at least to the best of their ability.

            My final passage seems to unite those two virtues. Ephesians 4:28 says, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” What better reason to work and earn money, than to help those in need? In doing so, we imitate Jesus, whose redemptive work on the cross helped us out of our bondage to sin.

            Work hard, help someone in need, then tell them about the help they can find in Jesus Christ!

Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in Northeastern Oklahoma. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.

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