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When charity forms an effective barrier to relationships…

Posted by on Oct 24, 2012 in blog links | 7 comments

When charity forms an effective barrier to relationships…

Joshua at “In Search of the City” has written another excellent post, this one called “Where charity fails.” The point of his post is that the way of providing “charity” today often removes relationship which is one of the most important aspects of true charity.

Think about it… it’s possible to “give to those in need” today without actually knowing anyone who is in need. This nameless, faceless kind of giving is not what we read about in Scripture, and it’s not the way of love in Christ.

Here is a small snippet of Joshua’s post:

Because our primary need as human beings is not for stuff but for genuine relationships with other human beings.

In this regard, charity can unwittingly form an effective barrier to such relationships ever being formed. This is unfortunate, because one of the best things that can happen to a rich person is to become friends with a poor person. When the debilitating plight of ”those people” across town goes from being a vague social concern that you think about every now and then to the immediate, heart-felt struggle of someone you personally know and love, no longer can you coast through life with a smooth conscience while your neighbor wastes away in abject poverty.

Instead of “loving our neighbors” we assuage our conscience by sending in some money – either a small amount or a large amount – whatever it takes to feel better about ourselves. Or, instead of admitting our needs to our neighbors, we go to an agency or “ministry” in order to get our physical needs met.

This is how I commented on Joshua’s post:

It is difficult for either the rich man or the poor man to live in those relationships, but that’s the way God has created us. We are created to live dependent on him and interdependent on one another. But, for both the rich man and the poor man, living interdependently requires honesty and care for others that we rarely demonstrate.

I encourage you to jump over to Joshua’s post, take part in the discussion on this important topic, and consider whether or not you are following God in loving your neighbor…


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-24-2012

    This is huge for me and you have articulated so well here. I have been conflicted for much of my Christian journey. Have always felt God would speak to me when I should think in terms of giving money…something I have only had in small quantities much of my life. There have certainly been times when God has directed my relationships, my efforts, my concerns and energies…and even at times money, but I have never felt to respond to all the pleas in the mail and from ministries…many there are that do good, but it has never seemed relevant to me to be sending money to anyone I do not know personally. I know we Americans are supposed to be known for our giving. And I guess that culturally speaking, that can be a good thing…but so many times I think we rob people of their opportunity to really find out how absolutely trustworthy is our Lord Jesus in His promises to provide all our need and in that find deeper and more profound relationship with Him in their lives. In their desperation to grow and be redirected and trained by the loving and sure hand of God instead of growing weaker and more dependent on agencies and government entities.

  2. 10-24-2012


    “Barrior”? 🙂

  3. 10-24-2012


    Several months ago I had a phone discussion with a lady who didn’t know what to do to help people. She had always given all of her available money to her church. But, we don’t act as a ministry clearinghouse like that, and we encourage people to give as God leads them. She didn’t know what to do. I suggested that she pray and look for opportunities to that God gave her to help those in need. After our conversation, she called me back within an hour; God had already reminded her of two needs that she already knew about, and she was excited about helping these people she knew. Your comment reminded me of that conversation and how God answered her prayer immediately.


    Thank you! I’ve corrected the misspelling in the title of this post.


  4. 10-24-2012

    Thanks for the highlight on this one, Alan. If it’s possible to feel closer to God while writing a blog post, I did on this one. 🙂

  5. 10-25-2012


    Thank you for the great post!


  6. 10-25-2012

    Alan, the conversation with the lady reminded me that the best part of being responsible oneself to learn how to give…is that God loves a cheerful giver…and there is no greater joy than when giving is not just a duty, a routine, a check sent off…but when you know of a need and you feel you can help to meet it…there is excitement and a sense of working with God in such a personal way and on such a realistic level…My yoke is easy and my burden is light…takes on real meaning when you feel God is showing you that you can help, in a way that makes a difference, but doesn’t overload your emotions with hopelessness or angst because the needs are so great and why isn’t there more money coming in etc.

  7. 10-26-2012


    You said, “When you know of a need and you feel you can help to meet it…there is excitement and a sense of working with God in such a personal way and on such a realistic level.” Yes, exactly!