S.R. Matthew 15:29-39


  1. Recent readings from Proverbs have instructed me to share with the poor.
    1. Prov. 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”
    2. Prov. 19:17 “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.”
  2. Proverbs also condemns the lazy and one who exercises poor stewardship of God’s gifts.
    1. Prov. 10:4 “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”
    2. Prov. 6:9-11; 20:4 “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.”
  3. On June 1st we looked at our responsibility as God’s children to share alms
    1. We noted examples from Acts 3 “lame man” and Acts 10 – Cornelius
    2. Regarding the lame man of Acts 3 we learned:
      1. Lame from his mother’s womb and is about 40 years of age (cf. Acts 4:22)
      2. This man can’t walk. He needs help.
      3. Peter and John miraculously helped him to “get back on his feet.”
      4. Please note that they gave what they had and it was not money. (Acts 3:5-6)
      5. This former lame man was now enabled, not to beg, but to work. (Acts 3:10)
      6. What was his greatest need? (Acts 3:11-26; 4:9-12)
      7. There is no indication that he continued to beg alms.
  4. Scripture informs us that all who come to Christ are responsible to work dependent upon ability and opportunity.
    1. “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (Eph. 4:28)
    2. “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thess. 3:10)
  5. As requested by the elders this lesson is focused on what role God has assigned us as a local assembly “church” functioning as a family unit.
    1. First, let’s look at an example in the life of Jesus (Matthew 15:29-39)
      1. When Jesus fed people several factors were involved:
        1. They had come to him for teaching and healing.
        2. They had run out of food while listening to Him
        3. (He was concerned that they might faint before arriving back home.
        4. He called upon His disciples, “How many loaves do you have?” and multiplied what the disciples shared. (Matthew 15:33-35)
        5. His food provision was a temporary relief for a temporary need.
    2. When people began to pursue Jesus for physical bread, the bread stopped (John 6:15).
      1. Jesus came as the bread of life with the words of eternal life (John 6:66-68).
      2. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
      3. People who follow Jesus accept His priorities as their own.
    3. In order to ascertain God’s design and desire let us observe the “role model” given by first century apostles and local assemblies as so directed.
    4. What priorities has God placed before His people acting as a group?
    5. Would we not agree that to support and share the truth of God is our primary focus? (1 Timothy 3:15) “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”
    6. In conjunction with that is it not God’s goal and ours that every Christian grow up spiritually? (Ephesians 4:12-16)


  1. Relief for the Saints
    1. Family members helping family members
      1. Acts 2:42-44; (appears to be a temporary circumstance)
        1. As any had “need”
        2. Mozambique brethren do well to eat once a day. (Kyle and Gary Fisher)
      2. 2.Note: Along with carrying for believing widows, the apostles realized the greater priority of spreading the good news (Acts 6:2-4). “serve the word”
        1. Other spiritually qualified men were responsible to care for widows among the disciples (Acts 6:1-7)
    2. Sending relief in emergency situations (Acts 11:27-30)
      1. This collection of funds was for the relief (Gk. diakonia = service) of the brethren in Judea as a result of a famine.
      2. It was sent directly to the need via Barnabas and Saul and distributed by elders
      3. The Christians (Acts 11:26) determined to send on the basis of means to serve the brethren during this famine. (Claudius 46 AD)
    3. Paul later brings “alms” (a gift) to my nation (saints) (Acts 24:17) Background:
      1. Galatians 2:10 “They, (James, Peter and John – cf. Acts 15) only asked us to remember the poor--the very thing I also was eager to do.”
        1. “poor” 4434. ptochos'; from ptosso (to crouch; a beggar (as cringing), i.e. pauper (strictly denoting absolute or public mendicancy, (depending upon alms for a living) … (distressed):--beggar (-ly), poor.
        2. Illustration of the use of this term “poor”. Luke 21:2-4 “2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
      2. Romans 15:25-27 “25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.”
      3. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 “1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 3 When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift (liberality = charis) to Jerusalem;”
      4. 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 “1 Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,”
        1. 5 what was not expected was for them to give “beyond their ability”
        2. The reason they gave to poverty stricken brethren in Jerusalem was because they “first gave themselves to the Lord.”
        3. God’s people are all about “giving gifts” when a brother is in poverty due to circumstances beyond his control.
      5. 2 Cor. 8:17-21 “17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 19What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.”
        1. A team approach to distributions to poor Christians is the pattern throughout Scripture when a church is acting as a family unit.
          1. (Acts 6)
          2. (Acts 20:4-6)
          3. (Romans 15:25-27)
          4. (2 Cor. 8 and 9)
  2. What should we do with this information? (Bible Basics)
    1. Recognize that God has placed considerable restriction by command and example upon whom the church (congregation) may help.
      1. In the New Testament one reads of the church (as a collective unit) being assigned to help poor persons that are in Christ (a saint = holy one).
      2. All of the examples of the church gifting poor saints were on a temporary limited basis due to a circumstance outside the control of the poor brother or sister.
        1. God placed restrictions upon even the brethren who were to be helped.
          1. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 “10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.
          2. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.
          3. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.”
    2. The only group of individual saints that received extended financial benefits from the church family acting as a group was widows 60 years of age and above. These met stringent requirements as given by the Holy Spirit.
      1. 1 Tim. 5:3 - 4,8, 16
        1. 3 “Honor widows who are widows indeed;
        2. 4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.”
        3. 8 “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.”
        4. 16 “If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.”
        5. In context the widow indeed (widows who are really in need) are those whose family cannot provide for their needs.
      2. It is necessary for us to make distinction between wants and needs.
        1. If we are incapable of doing so, God has done so for us.
        2. (1 Timothy 6:8) “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
        3. For what do we ask and why? (James 4:3) “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
        4. “Poor” was described as indigent persons dependent upon begging for gifts. (Ex. Lame man in Acts 3)
    3. Cultural expectations: I am entitled to the government and church for relief.
  3.  Concerns We Face as God’s People
    1. We should be vitally concerned never to disregard the needs of the poor among the saints.
      1. As individual Christians we have obligation to give alms to the pooropportunity permits.
        1. James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (Note context: James 1:25- 26)
        2. We are to be generous and share (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
      2. As a congregation we are responsible to care for saints, disciples, brethren in God’s family when personal family fails. (1 Tim. 5:1-16)
        1. The pattern that develops is that every time a congregation responded as a group to send relief it was always to saints in response to temporary circumstances beyond the control of the impoverished person.
        2. Are we free to disregard or go beyond this pattern? (2 John 9)
    2. All of us recognize that it is easier to throw money at problematic choices rather than take the time and extensive effort to address and correct actual underlying cause(s).
    3. Our concern is what does Jesus’ teach and what did He model and how is His family, the church, to respond?
  4. Conclusion: What should we do?
    1. Jesus said: “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
    2. We are not free to disregard the teaching of Christ and His apostles on this or any other matter.
    3. Our focus is that of our Lord and it is to make disciples.
    4. Subsequently we learn and obey as disciples all responsibilities He has placed upon us in order that we may share with others.