Christian charity is a huge topic in the Christian prepping circles and particularly now as holiday and end-of-year giving is on people’s mind. I have seen solutions run the gamut, from churches and groups attempting to feed anyone who knocks to those individuals who refuse to prep to give anything for fear of violence against their own.
There are three aspects of giving, and many confuse these, though they are distinctive. They are as follows:
- Giving to the Lord
- Giving to your family
- Giving to others
The most complex type of giving is actually the first— “Giving to the Lord”. The other two are pretty straight forward.
Investing vs Charity
Most Christians are familiar with the Biblical ban on Usury. While this article is not really on this subject, it bears mentioning a short description to keep confusion to a minimum.
Investing is when you loan money to an individual or business expecting a return. There is no prohibition on charging interest on this sort of transaction that I can find in the Bible. It makes sense too. If you take on risk (monetary) then you should have some sort of reward for that risk. I don’t really see interest as evil in that case.
Charity, on the other hand, should never be charged interest. If you are loaning money so a person can meet their basic needs, it is pretty clear that charging interest is immoral.
I have long had a policy that if someone approaches me about a “loan”, unless I am willing to go through the process of setting up a payment schedule, checking references and background history, and taking other safety measures, I just give the money to them. This tends to relieve pressure on the relationship. If they want to repay the money, it’s on them; however, it is considered a free gift by me, and I will never apply pressure to the relationship. Even then, I have lost friends over money.
A Lesson Learned
One particular incident stands out in my mind. I had a friend who ran a small business and ran into financial trouble. He asked me for a loan of $2000 to get him over the hump. I had the money and let him have it under my usual conditions for friends and family. Sadly, there were still problems that arose. Apparently, the reason he was in financial trouble is that he had a new girlfriend that introduced him to cocaine. All I did was fund that habit, and his business collapsed anyway. Because I had freely given the money to him, I held no ill will and still attempted to maintain that friendship in the hopes that I could offer help and support on his road to recovery. From his perspective, the shame was apparently too great. He moved, and I have never heard from him since.
My conscience is clear though. I gave the money in good faith and expected nothing in return. I can move on with my life with the realization that I did not knowingly contribute to his demise and that his choice of isolation is exactly that— His choice. I did learn from that in that I will always do a bit more research before giving money away.
If you are not vying for “credit” with the Lord and you outright own what you are giving away, you can do what you want with it. There are always ramifications when you give things away though. Giving to family tends to cause responses of “That’s not fair!”, when you give more to one than the other. In today’s litigious world, if done so in your Last Will and Testament, it can often result in your estate being tied up in probate unless everyone gets an equal share. Even then, all it takes is one family member to feel slighted in some way.
Giving to strangers often perpetuates the problems and issues that caused the need in the first place as well. Giving cash to a drug addict or drunkard is likely to simply be wasted on more drugs or alcohol.
There have been other times when I have given cash to others, but it is not with the expectation of getting “credit with the Lord”. It is simply that I have the money that someone else needs and am willing to part with it.
My family will be Taken Care of
I have also made the decision that my children will never starve as long as I can affect the situation. Even when they are married and gone from the house, I have a standing rule that my home is a safe place. If all else fails, they can come back home, under my roof, and they will at least get room and board. They have to live by my rules while under my house though. This is usually enough to encourage them to get back on their feet and head out into the world on their own as soon as they are able.
But giving to family or others is simple. I don’t give so much that it hurts my family. I don’t give when I know it will hurt them in the long run. I do give freely when I can. But that’s not really what this article is about. How do we give to the Lord?
Giving to the Lord
Giving to the Lord is one area where we have clear guidance, within the framework of the Bible, on how we should do it. Often giving to family/others will fall under the category of giving to the Lord, but to do so, it must meet several criteria outlined in the Scriptures.
Using the Bible as Our Resource
To start with, since this article is about a “Christian’s perspective”, it makes sense to lay down some ground rules. The Word of the Lord is a Christian’s source of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, so any criteria to meet must come directly from the Bible. For this reason, I will not consider any other source of knowledge or wisdom. I started this journey at the beginning by researching when giving was first taught in the Bible, and I came up with some basic stories that we are all familiar with. There are others, but I think these three lay a good foundation.
Example 1: Cain and Abel
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” – Genesis 4:3-5
Genesis 4 contains the story of Cain and Abel. We are all familiar with how Cain killed Abel out of jealously because his sacrifice was not accepted and Abel’s was. There are a variety of reasoning’s on why this happened. My personal opinion lies with two factors:
- When looking at the original Hebrew, I think that both Cain and Abel brought “fruit of the ground” as offerings, but that Abel “also” brought a young lamb. The sacrificial lamb is a strong theme throughout the Bible pointing to the ultimate “Lamb of God” sacrifice whom we all recognize as the Son of God. Abel obviously understood the importance of this concept and that is why his sacrifice was accepted.
- I also believe that Cain’s heart was not right with God from the beginning. If Abel knew of the importance of that sacrifice, then Cain knew as well, yet he chose not to make that offering.
The Heart Behind the Giving
But I think the take-away from this story is that the heart behind the giving is the most important aspect. We learn from this story that not every gift to the Lord is acceptable to Him. Cain’s offering was not acceptable either because it wasn’t his best, it wasn’t what the Lord desired, or his heart was not in sync with the Lord. Perhaps all three apply.
We usually understand this concept really well. How many parties have you attended where the point of one of the games was a “white elephant gift”. This is usually a gift that is known not to be appreciated and quite often the more outlandish the gift the better. We do this sort of thing as a joke, but giving to the Lord is no joking matter.
Example 2: Abram
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” – Genesis 14:18-20
In the story of Abram rescuing his brother from the joined kings who had attacked Sodom and Gomorrah, upon Abram’s victorious return the King of Sodom rides out to meet him. Abram had brought back all the goods and slaves stolen by the other kings, returning them to their rightful owners, but he also brought back the hard won spoils of war. The King of Sodom wanted back the people taken, but he tried to get Abraham to keep the goods as a reward for helping. Abram was wise enough to know that accepting such gratitude from Sodom would form an unwanted bond there and refused the offer. Instead, he met with Melchizedek, King of Salem who brought forth bread and wine and he paid “tithes” to Melchizedek.
There are a variety of interpretations on who Melchizedek is in modern Christianity, but if you know a bit of Hebrew culture, it’s not difficult to derive this identity. Melchizedek basically means “King of Righteousness”. This is not a name but a title. This title was carried by the first born son who was righteous in the lineage of Adam. The title would have been passed down in this order: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahaleel, Jared, Methuselah, Noah, Shem, Eber, Isaac, and then Jacob.
Notice that Enoch, Lamech, and many of Shem’s sons and grandsons are missing from that list. That is because the father outlived the sons and the title was instead passed on to the grandson who was alive.
“and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;” – 2 Peter, 2:5
If your Bible shows it, notice that the word “person” is usually in italics. That is a word inserted in the passage by the translators in an attempt to have the passage make sense. In this case, the translators missed the point. Look at that list again. “Preacher of Righteousness” is one of the aspects of Melchizedek and Noah is eighth in line. Noah was the eighth Melchizedek.
If you do the math based upon the dating given in Genesis, you’ll find that Shem, Noah’s son, held the title of Melchizedek during the time of Abraham. An interesting side note is that Melchizedek lived in Salem, the predecessor to Jerusalem. Abraham himself never held such a title because Shem outlived him. As part of my research, I’ve included a chart that I developed based upon my Bible study that gives a sharp visual representation of this lineage from Adam to Joseph. The dates and time spans are taken directly from the text of Genesis. I would note that the title of Melchizedek continued to be passed down through the ages until Jesus. This is just one of the reasons why the lineages given in the Bible are so important. Jesus continues to hold the title because He is not dead!
Why Abram Paid Tithes to Melchizedek
Now we begin to see why Abram paid Melchizedek tithes. It wasn’t just some random thing to do. Melchizedek was (and is) an important title in the culture. Abram was offering the Lord a portion of the increases that he had earned by paying these tithes to Melchizedek.
Tomorrow, I’ll finish up the examples that I looked at for a Biblical basis of giving to the Lord, and we will also look at laying the foundation on how to approach this.
- 2 – A Christian Prepper’s Perspective on Giving- Part 2, by R2
- 3 – A Christian Prepper’s Perspective on Giving- Part 3, by R2
- 4 – A Christian Prepper’s Perspective on Giving- Part 4, by R2
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part one of a four part entry for Round 74 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
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- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 74 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.