Benevolence: Individual

Text: Galatians 6:10

While we see churches engaging in benevolence in the New Testament, most benevolence will be done by individuals. Even the congregational benevolence is dependent upon the giving of individual Christians (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). In this lesson, we will focus on the benevolence that is done (or should be done) by us as individuals.

Individuals Are Expected to Engage in Benevolence

  • One of the reasons why we work is to be able to help others (Ephesians 4:28)
  • We are to be “generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:18)
  • Any benevolence done by the church does not excuse us from our individual responsibility – part of our “pure and undefiled religion” (James 1:27)

Ways in Which We Can Be Benevolent

  • Giving money – example of Cornelius (Acts 10:2)
  • Supplying other needs – example of Tabitha (Acts 9:36, 39)
  • Offering time and help – example of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16-18)
  • Showing hospitality – instruction to Hebrew Christians (Hebrews 13:2)

Recipients of Individual Benevolence

  • Churches are limited to helping Christians – in the NT, the recipients were always saints
  • No such limitation on individuals (Galatians 6:10) – we can help all people
  • We are to help as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10) – this requires us to have knowledge of a need (James 5:14) and the ability to help (2 Corinthians 8:12)

Exercising Judgment

  • While we are to be benevolent, some should not be helped – those who refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
  • Are we obligated to give to anyone who asks? … no – we must act in wisdom (Matthew 10:16)
  • We cannot neglect our other responsibilities – providing for our own (1 Timothy 5:8) and giving (1 Corinthians 16:2)
  • To the best of our ability, we must know that the one asking for help is truly in need and worthy of help
  • In the NT, benevolence was given to those that were known (Acts 4:32-35; 2 Timothy 1:16-18), those with whom one came into contact (Luke 10:33-35), and those who could be vouched for by a trusted brother (Acts 11:29; 1 Corinthians 16:2)
  • Potential danger of modern communication is that we can receive requests from all over the world from those claiming to be Christians in need – we have no divine obligation to help those we do not know, have no personal contact with, and have no one to vouch for them; this is not an excuse to not be benevolent; it is a reminder that we should engage in benevolence in a way that would be wise

How God Judges Us

  • God does not judge based upon the amount we give to others (cf. Mark 12:41-44) – this would put the rich at an unfair advantage; but God does not show partiality (Acts 10:34)
  • God judges based upon our heart (2 Corinthians 8:12)
  • The Macedonians were commended for their giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-5) – despite “their deep poverty [they] overflowed in the wealth of their liberality” (2 Corinthians 8:2); they could do this because “they first gave themselves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5)

Conclusion

  • We are to be benevolent because it is as if we are helping Jesus Himself (Matthew 25:34-40)
  • God has richly blessed us (1 Timothy 6:17-18) – we should be good stewards and seek to do good with out blessings; helping others is one way to do this

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