Are we not to support organizations that do good?
I have been reading your website for a long time and gaining much knowledge from it.
I am puzzled though about how we as Christians are to meet the expectations of Matthew 25:31-46. If we are not to support organizations, such as the Salvation Army, is there a recommended method to contribute to food drives, etc.? There is a local Salvation Army food drive coming up and several of my co-workers are gathering items to donate. Is this permissible?
It seems there are a few points of confusion.
The Salvation Army is a religion that focuses on helping people. See Can Christians Help Support the Salvation Army? Do you think it is proper to support a religion that teaches beliefs that you do not agree with?
Then there is the assumption that an institution, such as the Salvation Army, is the only way to do good for others. There are other institutions that do similar work and don't blend their religious beliefs with their actions.
But then, for that matter, you quoted a verse about how we are to individually do good deeds for our fellow Christians and then assume that funding an institution is what Jesus was talking about. When Jesus said, "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to 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" (Matthew 25:35-36), notice the use of the word "visited". Visiting doesn’t mean stopping by for a brief chat or sending a check. "Visited" is translating the Greek word episkeptomai. Thayer defines this word as: “to look upon or after, to inspect, examine with the eyes; . . . in order to see how he is, i.e. to visit, go see one. . . . to look upon in order to help or benefit; e.g. to look after, have a care for, provide for . . .” Vine defines it as: “to look upon, care for, exercise oversight.” Here the destitute are being helped by individuals overseeing their needs.
James takes up the same point, using the same Greek word episkeptomai. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Vincent’s Word Studies states: “James strikes a downright blow here at ministry by proxy, or by mere gifts of money. Pure and undefiled religion demands personal contact with the world’s sorrow: to visit the afflicted, and to visit them in their affliction.”
You can't fix all the world's problems, but you can ease a person's pain by helping as opportunities arise. "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith" (Galatians 6:9-10). When you do good because you are a follower of Christ, then the Lord receives the glory. When you give at the office, the institution that does the actual work is the one that gets the glory.