When It’s Good Not To Give
Christians and giving to help others who are in need are pretty synonymous. They go together. For, many Christians recognize that they have the responsibility to give to others and help them. Passages like Galatians 6:10 are often quoted to demonstrate such a responsibility. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” But, the Bible also demonstrates that there are times when it is good not to give to someone else. For instance, consider the statement that is made about the prodigal son in Luke 15:16, “And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.” It was good that no one gave him anything. So, consider some instances when it is actually good not to give.
1) Whenever giving shows your approval of sin. Here is probably the most obvious time when it is good not to give. If you are in a situation when your giving someone what he/she is asking for actually encourages the practice of a sin, you must not give! Consider that Romans 1:32, after listing many sins people are practicing, says, “those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” So, there are two things to consider from this text relative to giving. First, will your giving express direct approval of any sin? Second, will your giving express indirect approval of any sin? If you ever give in a way that expresses any kind of approval for sin, you are just as guilty as the sinner!
2) Whenever your giving enables sin to continue. Coming back to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, we need to consider what would have happened if someone would have given him something. Remember what this man had done. He demanded his portion of his father’s inheritance early and wasted it in reckless living. Now, he had spent it all and was beginning to face the consequences of the decisions he had made, while a famine hit the land. He tried to remain in a rebellious condition without admitting his sin and returning to his father. Yet, because no one gave him anything (i.e. no handout to help him survive in his rebellious state), he finally realized the seriousness of what he had done and repented. So, if your giving enables someone who is rebelling against God and harming himself/herself (or his/her family), your “gift” is really a curse for that individual. For, your “gift” is enabling him/her to remain in rebellion and helps keep him/her from God!
3) Whenever your giving keeps someone from hitting “rock bottom.” Because no one gave the prodigal son anything, he hit “rock bottom.” As Luke 15:16 indicates, he reached a place in his rebellion where he would have gladly eaten the scraps being tossed out to the pigs! Then, because no one cushioned his fall and softened the consequences of his rebellious actions, the very next verse says, “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!’” (verse 17). Then, he determined that he would go to his father, confess his sins, and seek reconciliation. Perhaps this never would have happened, though, if someone gave him something along the way! So, if your giving stops people who are sinning from hitting “rock bottom” and looking to God, you are harming them. Although you should love everyone and hate to see someone suffer, you also must not love someone all the way to Hell by helping to sustain him/her in sin!
Yes, there are times when it is good for the Christian not to give. But, you must use prayer and wisdom to determine when those times are. Remember that the best way to love and give is to love the soul of another in order to give him/her spiritual service that will help him/her go to Heaven! May all of your giving be to that end!