If my neighbors next door are struggling financially, is it biblically acceptable for me to give my contribution money to them instead of the church? Excluding family responsibilities, financial giving includes two important obligations. First, I must offer a regular donation to the work of the local church. “On the first day of every week,” the Bible says, “each of you is to put something aside and save, as he may prosper” (1 Cor. 16:2). This weekly gift (made according to a predetermined budget) is to be offered generously and willingly (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
According to New Testament teaching, my other charitable obligation is to the needy. Jesus teaches this in his parable of the compassionate Samaritan. This good neighbor takes money out of his own pocket to care for the injured fellow found on the treacherous road connecting Jerusalem and Jericho (Luke 10:35). Obviously, I’m not the friend Jesus wants me to be if I know that a neighborhood child lacks proper clothing but am too stingy to help her.
In light of this twofold obligation, I should budget a generous amount as a weekly offering and keep my heart open to the poor on a daily basis. Failure to do the former could jeopardize foreign missions and local evangelism efforts. Neglecting the latter would indicate a lack of genuine Christian compassion. The Bible says that if anyone “has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). If a need in the community is too great for me to handle alone, I should ask the church for assistance. After all, money accumulates in the treasury for the very purpose of promoting the cause of Christ in ways the individual cannot afford.