Jesus' General Rule On Giving

"Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away" (Matthew 5:42).

In Matthew 5:42 our Lord gave a general rule on giving. Of course, though this is a wise rule leading to an honorable habit, it is also a command from our Master. While the world may treat Jesus' rules as mere suggestions or options, Christians should faithfully follow them. The way of the Master is our only rule.

Generally speaking, when someone comes to you for help, you should want to help him. If the recipient has a legitimate need, and you have available means, and the overall circumstances proper, then you should follow this general rule. In other words, when everything checks out on both ends (receiving and giving) and there is no disqualifying condition or circumstance, you should proceed immediately to help.

All general rules have limitations, and this one is no exception. When rules are taken out of context, they are destructive. Certain qualifications do exist. Here are the main ones. We are not to divorce generosity from discretion (Psalm 112:5). We are not to make others a higher priority than God (Matthew 6:33). We are not to help the poor when we know they are irresponsible and law (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We are not to help others to the neglect of our own (1 Timothy 5:8).

Finally, this general rule indicates a general inclination. By God's grace we should always be inclined to give. And when we are inclined to give, we will also be inclined to listen. When a needy person makes a request, Jesus says plainly, "turn not thou away." Ignoring or dodging requests is a wrong turn! Make all the right turns—up to pray, in to think, then back to respond. But never turn away for no good reason! God promises to turn the tables on the one who turns away. "Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall try himself, but shall not be heard" (Proverbs 21:13).