by Rayola Kelley
Q: I would like to know your take on giving. There are those who believe that churches, ministries, and ministers should not let their needs be known except to God. What do you think is the proper procedure in this area?
A: I am aware of the different philosophies that Christians hold to in relationship to giving. We have been criticized by certain people when we have let some of our needs be known to our friends and supporters of this ministry.
I first want to state that I understand the confusion, misunderstanding, and suspicion that believers have concerning this subject. We all know that there are plenty of charlatans, imposters, and heretics fleecing the sheep and robbing the kingdom of God of resources. However, the Bible is clear that believers are to recognize, esteem, and support those who are living by the Gospel and are investing in their souls. The laborers are worthy of proper support, and should not be muzzled or hindered in any way. We are to actually bear one another’s burdens in love, as well as in submission to that which is worthy (Luke 10:17: 1 Corinthians 9:9-14; Galatians 6:2, 6; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7).
To me, the problem in the kingdom of God is that many people have an unrealistic attitude towards the work done on behalf of God’s kingdom. People seem to have one set of rules for the world and an entirely different set of rules for those who labor in the harvest field of humanity. For example, there are those who perceive that God’s servants should always work for nothing, yet they would never work for nothing. People have to pay their bills regardless of what vocation they are working in. In spite of what people think about God’s kingdom, money just does not fall out of the sky nor does it grow on trees.
Although servants of God must first seek Him for their needs, the reality is that He has blessed others so that they can meet those needs. We see this in the case of the people of Israel. They were slaves, yet they left Egypt with the necessary goods to see them through the wilderness and build the tabernacle. God never blesses so His people can heap things on themselves. He blesses so that His people can bless others.
Another aspect of this subject that proves that Christians are not always realistic or practical in their ideas concerning the kingdom of God involves servants of God asking for help or making their needs known to the Body. James 4:3 says that since they did not ask, therefore, they did not receive. When you consider that God, who is all-knowing, requires us to make our needs known in prayer to Him, how can Christians be critical towards those who let other believers know about their personal or financial struggles? The Jewish people were asked to give in relationship to the tabernacle in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, when the churches were made aware of the famine in Jerusalem and the Apostle Paul’s plight, they responded in a show of benevolent support. Note: these needs were made known in some way.
When I hear Christians criticizing churches, ministers, and ministries for making their needs known to the Body, I wonder how they would be able to criticize such a matter unless it was first made known to them. After all, man only knows in part. He walks in a very limited plane as to what he is able to perceive and know. Everything he knows and understands must be unveiled to him in some form or fashion. The reality is that we live in small worlds. The fact is, I usually do not know the needs of those I am involved with unless I am informed.
As Christians, we are not called to be critical towards those who have needs; rather, when we hear of a need, we have a responsibility to be open to whether or not God wants to use us to bear the burden of those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:2, 10). When Christians criticize people in their plight rather than humble themselves before God to seek His face about such matters, I often wonder if such individuals are hiding a critical, unloving spirit because they do not intend to help anyone except themselves.
I have no problem with servants of God making their needs known to the Body. We have had supporters ask us to let our requests be known so that they will know how to pray for us (Ephesians 6:18). We also trust that God is trustworthy to lay such burdens on the hearts of those who are open, receptive, and rich in faith as a means to express His love, thereby, bringing Him much deserved thankfulness and glory.