By Ernest O'Neill

How Can We Best Help Each Other Financially?

By Rev. Ernest O'Neill

Would you look again at Matthew 25:45 and see what Jesus says to us: "Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did not to me.’”  So he says when you help somebody, do it as unto me. That’s why your financial help or my financial help to a person is best done in the context of the body of Christ. That’s why it’s best done as an expression of the body of Jesus. The body of Jesus is an environment in which other people can come to know God and can come to know Christ. So when you and I give financial contributions as an expression of the whole ministry of this body of witness and prayer and love and care and concern and fellowshipping to a person, then it comes to them in that context and it is part of the ministry of Jesus in conforming them to his image.

So, it is tricky to work out the principles; my only job is to share some of the principles that seem to be in God’s words.  But you need to be careful about the check that you stuff quickly into an envelope and send off because of some human need that was vividly presented to you. You probably need to watch that.  I think you know me well enough by now to know I’m not saying give all your money here.  You know we’ve never had a financial appeal in all the years we’ve existed and I’ve encouraged you to give your money where Jesus guides you, but that’s the heart of it -- where Jesus guides you.  But do be careful about the check that you stuff into an envelope because of a human need that was vividly presented. Really, there is meaning in "contributing to the needs of the saints."

The word “saints” is “hagios” in the Greek, and it doesn’t mean outstanding men and women that are formally canonized by some Church. It doesn’t mean that.  It means ordinary men and women who have such faith in Jesus’ death and their death with him that their heart is being changed into his heart and their life is becoming more like his life.  They may not be free from every sin that they know, but they’re fighting sin with all their beings and they want to be like Jesus and whatever sin turns up in their life, they hate it and they fight against it until the Holy Spirit cleanses their heart and they are able to live above it. That’s what the saints are. Now you can see that a group of people who are bound together in that kind of heart relationship to God are the people that can most safely help each other financially without damaging their conformity to Jesus’ image.