Since the first meeting of the early church detailed in the book of Acts, God has instructed believers to use the resources He has given them to help the needy. We fulfill this scriptural mandate by offering prayer, counsel, and temporary financial assistance to individuals and families during a time of need. Examples of the types of help provided include grocery coupons, bus passes, and marriage and financial counseling.
The Benevolence Ministry at Calvary Chapel Viewpoint is a ministry of helps, and the Benevolence Committee of the church oversee it. It is a place that the family of God can turn to when a situation arises that requires some type of assistance.
In our country today, there are many types of assistance that are available to people in need: Our immediate family is the first place to go.
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. (1 Tim 5:8.)
There are also government programs, local programs, feeding and shelter ministries that exist. For the family of God, another option is the church. The bible teaches us this.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
“Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:10-11)
These verses clearly teach that we are to reach out a hand of assistance to the poor and needy. Yet the bible also teaches this in Proverbs.
“The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright is a highway.” (Pr. 15:19)
Then in Thessalonian we read this:
“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
How can we reconcile these verses when dealing with someone who calls and needs help? We apply the principles of the word of God! Most benevolence requests are presented at the point of crisis. Therefore, the Benevolence Committee must have keenness and quickness of mind, and guard themselves from responding out of emotion which is of the carnal nature. Rather, this discernment is a Spirit led combination of Mercy, Wisdom and Counsel. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which should be prayerfully sought by the church leadership. The first step of such spiritual discernment is to separate the emotions of a needy person’s urgency from the root problems. This allows us to identify, with an eternal perspective, the root of the problem:
- A legitimate biblical need.
- Or the discipline of God.
We need to have as much information as possible. In simplistic terms a person’s situation usually falls into one of three basic categories:
- Something difficult has occured.
- They did something foolish.
- Someone else is unfairly treating them.
Our mission is to rightly discern which category they fall into, then to appropriately apply God’s grace, wisdom, and direction to the situation. There may be a need for assistance, discipleship, or even a need for correction in humility and gentleness. It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit that true spiritual discernment arrives. Apart from the Spirit, we are relying on our carnal knowledge and worldly experience, both of which are deceptive and empty.
“So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:10)
So how does it work?
If there is a need, the first step is to contact the church office, and obtain a “Benevolence request form”, or download the form from our website. The Benevolence request form is a way for us to gather all the information needed to make a prayerful and discerning decision. The form must be filled out completely, and returned to the office or via an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once it is received it will be passed on to the Benevolence Committee who will prayerfully review the situation. The review may take several days before an answer can be given. This may seem like a long time, but our heart is to be able to have discernment from the Lord on how to respond. For a close look at our Benevolence guidelines, see the Benevolence request form.
What is the heart?
We do not seek to delay or make it hard for a person to receive assistance. Yet we also want to ensure that we are truly ministering in the situation, and not simply throwing money at a problem that has not been resolved. We have to remember that the funds we may be giving have been given by the people of the church, who are entrusting us to be good stewards of it. We have to remember that it is God’s money, and we will be accountable to the Lord for our decisions. Our desire is that God would be gloried in all of our actions!
May the Lord Bless you