Question:

Hello,

Please help me answer this question: A friend of mine told me that as he was going to church yesterday he met someone who was sick, and he gave all that he has on him that day to the sick person. Instead of using that money to give to the church, he gave that money to the poor. He did not pay a giving or offering on that day. Is it a sin because the Bible says to lay aside money and present on the first day of the week, which is Sunday?

Answer:

"And He answered and said to them, 'Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, "Honor your father and mother," and , "he who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death." But you say, "Whoever says to his father or mother, 'Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,' he is not to honor his father or his mother." And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away form Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."'" (Matthew 15:1-9).

What the Pharisees attempted to do was to play one command off of another command. They claimed that giving to the Temple freed a person from the obligation of supporting their parents in their old age. Your friend is attempting to do the same thing in the opposite direction. He is claiming that giving to the poor frees him from his obligations to give to the Lord.

Weekly giving is required and it is based on what a person plans in advance to give. "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (II Corinthians 9:7). In other words, because it is planned in advance, we are not giving God the leftovers of our income but the firstfruits of our labor.

Helping the less fortunate is also a requirement of Christians. "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need" (Ephesians 4:28). Where giving to God is a planned, scheduled event, giving to the needy is done as we have an opportunity. "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 6:10). There will be times that I won't have enough to help someone else, but I'll do what I can. There will be times that I will have something set aside to help another person, but I haven't run across a need yet. If it is a choice between helping a fellow believer and a non-believer, then the believer takes priority.

Therefore, if your friend saw someone in need and he had the means to help him, then it is expected that help. However, that does not release him from his obligation to give to the Lord.

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