Although the term “liberal” is one which all of us in the church try to avoid with sound doctrine, we very often forget that we can be very liberal in the eyes of the Lord and be found more pleasing in His sight: if we are liberal in our giving to those who are in need.
The job of giving liberally to those who are in need is for the individual Christian, and not the church itself. We are told to give often, yet never as a composite church, but as individuals. As it is not my intent here to discuss this portion of the issue in depth, please visit http://www.deusvitae.com/faith/denominations/NI.html for more information.
Unfortunately, many of us get so wrapped up in arguing against the church giving liberally to those in need that we forget our individual command to do so. This is a grievous error! Scripture is very clear on our responsibilities, as shown in Matthew 25:34-46:
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’
Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” As we can see, one of the points of the Judgment will be on how liberal we were with those who needed our assistance! This is truly something to keep in mind.
Liberality in giving is so important that James says in James 1:27,
This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Devotion to God may be summed up in two statements, one of which is the need to give to those in need!
It is important that we remain steadfast in the truth; however, we must always be on guard to make sure that we are so zealous against certain errors that we neglect related commandments that have surely been given to us. We must continue to show that the church proper does not have the authority to support institutions, but we must not do so at the expense of our own liberality toward those in need.
Ethan R. Longhenry