Ask Your Preacher
I understand the limited responsibility of the local church in regard to benevolence. My concern is this: our preacher has been presenting lessons about how we should be helping out the poor and that the Bible commands it. The problem is:
- I'm not exactly rich; in fact, I'm barely making ends meet. But now I'm feeling sort of guilty after these sermons.
- If I try to help the needy, how do I do it? I mean, do I go out and try to find a poor person or give to the guy standing on the corner with a "Please Help Me Feed My Kids" sign?
I am a single woman with no retirement plan, no medical insurance, and a job that is "on call" and lucky if I get in a 32-hour work week. I know our idea of poverty in this country doesn't come close to real poverty faced in other nations, but I'm feeling pretty strapped right now. How do I fulfill my Christian responsibility to help the needy like our preacher says we should?
Times Are Tight
Dear Times Are Tight,
In order to fulfill the command to help the poor, we must have both means and opportunity. 2 Cor 8:12 tells us that God only holds us accountable for what we are physically able to do. You can’t give millions of dollars to charity if you don’t have millions of dollars to give! So take comfort; God doesn’t expect you to give beyond your capabilities.
In fact, the story of the widow and the mites in Lk 21:1-4 makes it clear that amount isn’t important to God, but effort is. As opportunities arise in your life to help those who are in need (needs can be physical, financial, emotional, etc.) – fulfill them. After all, Jesus said that even a cup of cold water counts when it comes to helping His service (Matt 10:42).
If you were convicted of being a sex offender over eighteen years ago, and now time has changed your life, and you have accepted Christ, should you still be condemned by the public? Does God always hold it against you for the sin that now has been forgiven by some?
Leaving The Past Behind
Dear Leaving The Past Behind,
Sin has both spiritual and physical consequences. The spiritual consequence of sin is eternal death unless we are forgiven in Christ (Rom 6:23). The physical consequences of sin still remain after forgiveness. God says that we reap what we sow (Gal 6:7). When we behave immorally toward a woman, lose our temper, mistreat others, are bad examples for our children, etc. – there are consequences to those choices. God does offer forgiveness if we place our faith in Him (read “What Must I Do To Be Saved” for more details), but that forgiveness doesn’t remove the consequences of sin in this life. David sinned when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:2-4); God forgave David of the sin when David repented (2 Sam 12:13), but David’s child still died as a consequence of that sin (2 Sam 12:14). A sex offender can be forgiven if they turn to the Lord, but the consequences of that sin will still follow them in this life.
Hello again, and may God continue to bless you all. My question is concerning a trend in the Lord’s church and its consequences. I am having trouble concerning fellowshipping with the denominational world. I don't believe it is a good idea for the Lord’s church’s members to be thrown up together with speakers that are not Christians… i.e. at Christian youth rallies, inviting them in during Bible study, or holding breakfast with them to show our support for each other. We are to be in the world, NOT of the world. I think it shows an acceptance of their false doctrine, and waters us down… not to mention confusing our own on where we stand and why.
I don't hate the sinner, just the sin, but we need to draw the line and say, “That's it.” Thanks a lot.
There is nothing wrong with studying with people from the denominational world in hopes of converting them to the one true church of Jesus Christ (Eph 4:4-6), but it is dead wrong to support false teachers.
2 Jhn 1:10 says that we shouldn’t even give a greeting to those that are false teachers. We cannot in any way confuse people by supporting the denominational world. The denominations have left the basic teachings of Christ, and these religious leaders are destroying people’s souls. They nullify God’s laws in order to keep their traditions (Mk 7:9). Jude warned that false teachers are like hidden rocks that sink ships and shepherds that fail to protect the flock (Jude 1:12). God’s church should have no communion with the doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1).
I know that forgiving those who have hurt us is absolutely critical to be a follower of Jesus, but how can we know for sure if we have truly forgiven someone?
The only way to know for sure is to examine yourself – something God says we should regularly do (1 Cor 11:28). Forgiveness can often take time because we aren’t as good at it as God is, but there are a few signs that you are truly forgiving someone.
- You aren’t embittered against them (Heb 12:15). Bitterness is the product of holding grudges against someone and not letting go of your pain. If you find yourself becoming an angry and embittered person – you probably need to work on forgiveness.
- Are you trying to forget about the injury they caused? God says that forgiveness means that you no longer remember the transgression (Heb 8:12). This doesn’t mean that you have amnesia, but it means that you aren’t dwelling upon it and keeping records of injuries against you.
As we said, forgiveness can be very difficult, especially if the person has hurt you very deeply, but it is possible to grow and become a truly forgiving person.
Some passages that say God is peaceful (Rom 15:33, 1 Cor 14:33, 2 Cor 13:11, 2 Thess 3:16, Heb 13:20, and Isa 2:4). Some passages say that God is a warlord (Psa 18:34, Exo 15:3, Psa 24:8, 2 Sam 22:35, Psa 144:1, and Joel 3:9-10). So how am I to understand both set of Scriptures when one talks of peace and the other talks of war?
Dear Character Building,
God says that we should be at peace with all men as much as it depends on us (Rom 12:18). It takes two to have peace, and even the greatest peacemakers must be prepared for war when others seek to destroy and commit evil. God is that perfect peacemaker that desires good things for all but is unafraid to punish the wicked (Rom 12:19). If God were unwilling to protect the righteous from evil, there would be no peace (Pr 17:15). However, God knows how to both protect the righteous and vanquish the unrighteous (2 Pet 2:9).