I ran across this helpful section of Gospel in Life: Study Guide last night at our church’s Bible study. I appreciate it in light of popular speakers who make Christians feel guilty for having a furnace, an air conditioner, a fishing boat, and good food to eat each day.
“Often books and speakers tell Christians that they should help the needy because they have so much. That is, of course, quite true. Common sense tells us that, if human beings are to live together on the planet, there should be a constant sharing of resources.”
“But this approach is very limited in its motivating power. Ultimately it produces guilt. It says, ‘How selfish you are to eat steak and drive two cars when the rest of the world is starving!’ This creates great emotional conflicts in the hearts of Christian who hear such arguing. We feel guilty, but all sorts of defense mechanisms are engaged. ‘Can I help it if I was born in this country? How will it really help anyone if I stop driving two cars? Don’t I have a right to enjoy the fruits of my labor?’ Soon, with an anxious weariness, we turn away from books or speakers who simply make us feel guilty about the needy.”
“The Bible does not use the guilt-producing motivation, yet it powerfully argues for the ministry of mercy. In 2 Corinthians 8:2-3, Paul tells us that the Macedonian Christians gave generously to the Jerusalem famine victims. …What was the dynamic that moved them to give? ‘Their overflowing joy…’ (v. 2) and ‘they gave themselves first to the Lord’ (v. 5). …Their gifts were a response, not to a ratio of income levels, but to the gift of Christ! Mercy is spontaneous, super abounding love which comes from an experience of the grace of God” (p. 109-110).
In other words, we should help those who need it – but we should do so not out of guilt, but out of gratitude for grace.
The above quote is found in Tim Keller, Sam Shammas, and John Lin, Gospel in Life: Study Guide.