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).
What is the biblically appropriate thing for a Christian to do if they should commit a crime? Shouldn't they turn themselves in and "do the time"? Should they ever plead innocent and try to get off if they are truly guilty?
Nothing But The Truth
Dear Nothing But The Truth,
One of the most basic teachings of the Bible is that lying is wrong (Col 3:9). It is better to suffer than to be a liar (Pr 19:22). Christians should love the truth… and loving the truth includes speaking the truth (Eph 4:15). If a Christian has committed a crime, they must own that sin and own the consequences as well.
Is it okay for Christians to buy lottery tickets? A while back, our preacher made a comment regarding what types of things he would do if he won the lottery. I wasn't sure why he would be plotting plans for a potential windfall when I was under the impression that any kind of gambling is sinful. Is this correct?
Your preacher may have just been making an off-handed remark, or he may be a serious gambler… but either way, here are some verses to consider. The Bible never specifically mentions gambling as a sin, but there are a great many things surrounding gambling that are sinful. Consider that:
- Gambling focuses around money and greed. God warns us clearly about being fixated with money (1 Tim 6:10, Heb 13:5). God wants us to be satisfied with our income (Eccl 5:10). Contentment is a major component of spiritual maturity (1 Tim 6:6).
- Gambling is used as a means to gain money without working for it. God finds pleasure in people working for their livelihood (2 Thess 3:10-12, Pr 10:4).
- Gambling wastes money because, ultimately, the house does always win. God expects us to be good stewards (1 Cor 4:2) and save for the future (Pr 6:6-8).
- Gambling and the places where gambling occurs are often associated with other sinful things. There is a reason Las Vegas is called “Sin City”. That industry is not one that a christian should be supporting (2 Cor 6:16-17).
- Gambling is addictive. We can only have one master (Lk 16:13).
Why do some churches baptize in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost when everyone in the Bible was baptized in Jesus’ name?
Get It Right
Dear Get It Right,
There is no difference between being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; both phrases are used in the New Testament (Acts 2:38, Matt 28:19).
What is considered a sin if you are not married?
Dear Not Married,
There is a difference between romantic acts and sexual acts… and sexual acts are for marriage only. There is a line between a gentle kiss of affection and a lustful kiss of sexual appetite. Until marriage, it is important to avoid lustful situations altogether. Paul told Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim 2:22), and 1 Thess 4:5 warns against the “passions of lust”. The godly thing to do is to not defile the beauty of the marriage bed (Heb 13:4) by jumping into lustful activities before “‘til death do us part”. There is much disagreement over where to draw the line when still dating, but the principle is that lust should be restrained so that godly affection might grow.