If you haven’t yet, you may want to read “who is my neighbor” (below) before reading this post. The conclusion was that our neighbor is anyone we have the opportunity and resources to help. This did lead to 2 other questions; the first being, which neighbor do I help? The help we are speaking of here could be that of a physical, emotional, or spiritual nature. We find further instructions in the New Testament, which give us an order to live by.
1. Your family. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8). It would be a terrible testimony to give your money away and have your own kids without enough food to eat. But it should be noted that “provide for” is very different than “be excessive”.
2. The church. (those in the family of God). “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
I believe that following the principal of #1 the needs in your local church would take precedence over those needs outside of your local church. Ideally the leadership in your local church is using the resources given to take care of the needs within the church and follow God’s lead on work outside of itself. In the U.S., in this time of wealth, an increasing percentage of local church resources should be headed outside of itself. However, if the local church you are a part of is self-centered, wasteful, and materialistic then you may need to take more initiative to encourage the leadership to do well, and if that fails then to designate what your giving is used for.
3. The poor. Throughout the Old and New Testament we see God’s heart for the poor and the responsibility he puts on us to look after their needs. It is also consistent that along with taking care of physical needs a priority is placed on the spiritual needs (Luke 4:18, Luke 12:32-34). It is best to support the work of the poor by those who are followers of Jesus, who along with taking care of the immediate are also providing hope and opportunity for their eternal well-being. Now there are organizations that do good things but not for Jesus. There are plenty of people who aren’t Christians who can give to those organizations – so let them do that.
4. Other people that God puts in your path. Again as Galatians 6:10 states “Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all.” So depending on their type of need each person we are in contact with is a possible recipient of God’s love and grace working through us.

Having biblical priorities helps us use our limited resources most effectively and keeps us from giving to things that don’t have a God centered impact.

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