For the most part of my life as a Jehovah’s Witness I would turn away rejecting beggars and pan handlers viewing them as bums. If I saw them smoking or over weight I really felt justified in rejecting them. I had more respect for the guy who said, “hey, I’ll be honest, I want to buy a beer”… I would likely then give him a buck. Thank God I am not the same person I used to be. Now, if I see someone asking for a handout or a buck I will give it to them. I no longer will pass these people up. Even if I see them smoking or over weight. However, If I notice they are drunk, I will go get them something to eat and not give them money. I felt justified not giving because raised as a JW we were taught to focus on preaching the “good news” and not taking care of the poor or giving to those who ask. Sense not reading the Watchtower and reading the Bible more, my attitude on these matters have changed. Jesus didn’t tell us to size up the person asking them what they were going to do with the money. He didn’t say, “be sure you don’t give money to a filthy sinner”. He taught us to give freely from the heart to anyone who asks. At least that is the way I take his words in the Bible. As far as being worried that someone might buy booze or cigarettes, many places such as Mcdonalds have gift cards that can be purchased and given away.

I am not trying to toot my horn here or say “look at me I follow Christ commands and give to the poor”. I don’t have much to give to be honest but if I have a buck and see someone asking for it they get it. These days I feel guilty if I don’t. To me it is not worth a buck or a meal to feel the guilt I get if I do not share so I try to give from my heart or it really doesn’t count with God. At Matthew 25:34-40 we read, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

It is very clear how Jesus is going to judge us. He will judge us by our actions, not our head knowledge or doctrine in my opinion. Please notice James 1:27, “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.” Widows and orphans cannot pay you back so the message is to help out those who are in tribulation without the expectation of receiving something back. There are many ways we can do this kind of volunteer work. Many hospitals and old folks homes are happy to allow volunteers to visit ones who are all alone or lonely. They appreciate volunteer workers. Craigslist is also a place people ask for help. Your local news paper or Chamber of Commerce may have avenues for one to donate time to a good cause. Many Churches are involved in helping the homeless. Homeless shelters need volunteers. We should be careful of any organization that will take advantage of us while paying some “not profit” officers high wages and there are many of those so be careful. Personally I volunteer to help those who are trying to quite drug and alcohol addiction and there are many and the number grows everyday. I’m not trying to blow a trumpet before me but putting out ideas.

To me it seams that so many get caught up in doctrine and debating that the real message of Jesus just doesn’t shine through. He was huge on not judging others and set the example on showing love and giving to others. He gave all and in the end his own life. He had no place to lay down his head. (Luke 9:58) Is it right to spend all of our time reading the Bible and debating and not helping others as Jesus taught us to do? If JW’s had a time card for that I wonder if they would have billions of hours a year to report? That would be fantastic! I only say this because I was a JW. I’m not trying to look down on them. They are good people for the most part and have good hearts. sadly they are focused on doing the will of the FDS and not Jesus. When talking about charity they like to quote the scripture where Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” In my opinion this is a gross misapplication of this scripture. They expect ones to donate to them and not the poor. That is why they have information on how to donate ones entire estate to the JW/org. They could help millions if they would heed Jesus words and sell their belongings and give to the poor. They have Billions of dollars in properties and stocks and bonds. They own every Kingdom Hall, assembly building and many estates that JW’s have donated. The first century Christians met in homes not “halls”. (Acts 2: 44-45)

I thought I would post a few more scriptures along these lines to see what you think about this subject. There are many more but I thought these more than suffeciant. Feel free to post your comments

    Matthew 9:13, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    Luke 6:29-30, “…and from him that takes away your outer garment, do not withhold even the undergarment. Give to everyone asking you, and from the one taking your things away do not ask [them] back.”

    Matthew 5: 42, “Give to the one asking you, and do not turn away from one that wants to borrow from you [without interest].”

    Matthew 6:1-4, “Take good care not to practice YOUR righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them; otherwise YOU will have no reward with YOUR Father who is in the heavens. 2 Hence when you go making gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to YOU, They are having their reward in full. 3 But you, when making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, 4 that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you.”

    Galatians 6:10, “Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to [us] in the faith.”

    James 2:14-17, “Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of YOU says to them: “Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,” but YOU do not give them the necessities for their body, of what benefit is it? Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.”

    Acts 2: 44-45, “All those who became believers were together in having all things in common, 45 and they went selling their possessions and properties and distributing the [proceeds] to all, just as anyone would have the need.” I must ask… Is there anyone doing this in the world today? I believe there might be, however I know JW’s do not practice this for sure. Why not? Has there been “new light” in this regard?

    Deuteronomy 7, “In case some one of your brothers becomes poor among you in one of your cities, in your land that Jehovah your God is giving you, you must not harden your heart or be closefisted toward your poor brother.

    Deuteronomy 15:11, “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.”

    Mark 10:21, “Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    Luke 12:33, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

    Luke 14:13-14, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

    1 Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

    1 Timothy 6:17-18, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Take care,
Your Brother,

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16 Comments on Charitable Works and Gifts Of Mercy

  1. andrew says:

    As you know GB I totally agree with you. Jesus before preaching to a crowd usually cured all the sick, lame, and blind first.
    Some Christians groups who give materially as well as preach the gospel in foreign lands are accused of just creating “rice christians”. Although many we give to will never become Christians that isn’t the point. Very probably many who benefited from Jesus’ miracles or saw firsthand his healings didn’t follow him.
    We must be generous just as our Heavenly Father is generous.

    Thanks for the article


  2. Dennis says:

    What a great article and reminder for us all. I need to MAKE time for this kind of witnessing. Maybe I could find a retirement home and read the scriptures for an hour to those who would be interested. I have to get out of my little bubble and pursue this!

    You quoted, Matthew 6:1-4, “Take good care not to practice YOUR righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them; otherwise YOU will have no reward with YOUR Father who is in the heavens. 2 Hence when you go making gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to YOU, They are having their reward in full. 3 But you, when making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, 4 that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you.”

    This is one reason I always had an issue turning in my time. It always seemed to me to be practicing my righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them. Especially so when I would sign up to Aux. Pioneer. An announcement is made that you are pioneering, you join the ranks of a special group and everyone makes a big deal about it. After I was reinstated due to an issue that the elders over reached on (that’s a different story and one that ultimately caused the scales to fall from my eyes) the elders said I couldn’t Aux. Pioneer. I just thought, “right, I can preach as much as I want and you have no right to stop me”. Of course their point was I couldn’t formally do it and get all the recognition that went along with it. (“Take good care not to practice YOUR righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them”) That was fine by me because as I said, I had issue with all that anyway.

    Great article GB. Keep up the good work.



    • greybeard says:

      You bring up a really good point here Dennis. It’s true, JW’s do make a big deal out of pioneering and they glorify those who do.


  3. jacqueline says:

    Thanks so much for the reminders on this. We were encouraged however to give to the rich organization. Even leave our property to them instead of to our poor children. What a shameful organization this is. How wicked.


    • Amos says:

      Amen, Sister Amen.

      This was yet another thing that woke me up to their materialistic greed….”don’t do this & don’t do that, but leave us all your possesions when you die”. I was absolutely agast at this when I was told by a CO that I should leave all my belongings to the org. in my will.


      jacqueline: Thanks so much for the reminders on this. We were encouraged however to give to the rich organization. Even leave our property to them instead of to our poor children. What a shameful organization this is. How wicked.


  4. DanielB says:

    Greybeard, you said, “sadly they are focused on doing the will of the FDS and not Jesus.”

    I felt this too, even after the kingdom halls had in time become identified as “Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s CHRISTIAN Witnesses”. I was thinking back then that Jesus would become more fixated on, by the JWs in general, but I went forward saddened on this letdown.

    However, here are some things that had, and would be done, along the lines of charity. One did take groceries to a needy and overlooked sister, leaving them annonymously on her step, though not letting others know. One did often contribute into contribution boxes at KHs the very last bill without knowing when and if more would return to the billfold. A brother gave strangers help with money expecting nothing in return when needed. And there are more that I know of. Actually you are right here, and it is sad. The “FDS” was often substited for Jesus, and Jehovah, as the focus.

    I have confidence that many who are still in the organization will become more charitable and gracious toward disadvantaged people as time goes by, as I am sure you are.

    Thank you for the type of confidence you help us with, here brother, to keep doing as Jesus role-modelled and taught. Much appreciated.


  5. Papabear says:

    These are great points. A group of brothers and I were on a trip. A couple approached us asking for help. They were wearing clothes that would have been better suited as shop rags. Not one brother (including myself I am ashamed to say) even reached for our wallet. In fact only one acknowledged them. The rest walked the other way. I have felt guilty about my decision to this day.
    On another occasion I was at the hall. A elderly lady called and asked if our church could help her with her electric bill. The elder that I had given the phone to said,”We don’t do that here.” Again, I felt guilty even though I didn’t make the decision. Brother Greybeard, you have brought up vital points that I want to focus more on. Thank you.


  6. Jayme says:

    This lack of charitable works amd gifts of mercy has always bothered me. My experiance has been that it seems most in the congregation feel that the supposed “needy” are just taking advantage of people. This has produced an atmosphere of stingyness and suspicion with regards to giving of ones time or money, both within the cong. and out. It is true we must be careful but not to the extreme of nearly foresaking this important duty altogether. One experiance which happened several years ago at book study, a young mother with baby came in the hall just before the meeting in search of help with food and diapers for her baby. I overheard the study conductor and another elder tell her that we didn’t supply those kind of services and refered her to some other area churchs and the local government services. When she left, I followed her out and gave her $20 dollars, all I had at the time, and got a little information from her. After the study the conductor asked what I had done and I told him. He at first counseled me but then after I shared some points from the scriptures he asked where she lived. I found out later that he and his wife took her some diapers and food and that the wife made a few back calls on her.


  7. andrew says:

    In a recent district convention my assignment as head over a department kept me in close contact with the convention overseer. He told me that a homeless person had come to the assembly and expected a handout. This overseer told me that the homeless person was told that we don’t do that, but if he wanted to listen he could stay.


    • DanielB says:

      It’s sad, isn’t it Andrew brother.

      The whole world seems to recognize this with the “exclusive” mindset among the group. We used to wear this ill-fitted garment as an acceptable arrogance, since we were the ones called and receptive to “Truth”. A drastic misconception. I pray for all of them and us, on both sides of their wall. And for those who would constitute themselves enemies toward any of the “least of these, my brothers”; or that we have made the same of them. Our gift needs to stay at the alter, until we do our part to make peace. Mt 5.21-24, 43-48

      Here is the thing that becomes especially vital for us in the struggle, and requires continual patience and love, such as we may follow this through:

      Mt 10.35-42: “For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household. He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his torture-(stake/tree/crux) and FOLLOW AFTER ME is not worthy of me. He that finds his soul will lose it, and he that loses his soul for my sake will find it.”
      “He that receives you receives me also, and he that receives me receives him also that sent me forth. … And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, I tell you truly, he will by no means loose his reward.”

      Before all things are complete in this life that we live, we will understand Jesus’ words from the introduction to the above quoted thoughts, “Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword.” The ropes tied to millstones tug abruptly on throats, on their way cast to the sea!

      We need to keep peace; even if we get kicked to the curb.

      Now if I can follow through on this, I just might make it!


    • greybeard says:

      I bet they didn’t announce that at the end of the assembly. This really is sad. They didn’t even go as far as telling him to “keep warm and well fed”. I bet this homeless person could have went to any other church and found a meal or something. How did that make you feel Andrew at the time? Were you already having doubts about the JW/org then?


      • andrew says:

        I felt sick to my stomach. I tried hard to keep the look of revulsion from my face. The convention overseer told me that the person had already left otherwise I would have helped him personally. Within a month of this happening I had stepped down as elder.


  8. DanielB says:

    “Friend of tax collectors and harlots…” ! WHAT a HORRIBLE sin, that Jesus was kicked away for ! Imagine if someone smelled, and Jesus would stand next to him anyway!

    Since my life-change, I have often extended toward such, and despite looks from the status quo community around. It’s not only JWs that way, as I am sure you notice, but they, in particular, are hesitant to extend in this direction. Of course anyone needs to use sense on the subject, but using the sense of our Master Teacher.


  9. Art Fern says:

    I was born into a religion that had crazy ideas like the JW’s originating from odd characters a century or two back. But as with many, you are born to believe, you are surrounded by those with similar beliefs and the best way to get yourself knocked around is to think differently. This group took a manical approach to charity, but it had nothing to do with the doctrine of works, it was a way of life. By the time I graduated from high school, I had probably spend 500 hours working on a farm that raised crops to feed those who had little money, job losses, illness in the family, etc. Spend maybe 20% of my income giving to the church as well as funds to help with hospital bills, home repairs, rents, utilities and food for people in need. Then there were countless hours of filling all kinds of needs in the community, selling balloons or Hawaiian ice drinks during a community event, the money going to all sorts of charities. If a neighbor was in trouble you just helped them directly. I never thought we were rich or poor, but average or a little below, so when my dad put a bunch of $20’s in a man’s hand to help him pay for his wives funeral I wondered as a 5 or 6 year old, “dad, do you know what you’re doing here?”
    But for the times when I had to get up early or work at that damn farm, I actually enjoyed it. When my youngest daughter got mad because I was helping to turn a neighbor’s garage into a apartment for a person to assist a blind mother who had twin boys who were mentally limited and then having just lost her husband in a gas line explosion, it was hard to help her at 3 to get it. Now she casually talks about another home they finished building for Habitat for Humanity, so she did get it, over time.
    I would never call someone or a organization down for not giving or working for charity or build someone or an organization up for doing so, I am happy I was taught to think of others not always of myself and now to see my kids involved is great, it keeps you centered. I know that many JW’s were taught to not get involved with outside organizations or worldly folk and that includes charities. It’s sad in a way, because of the opportunities to learn abut life, it’s up’s and down’s, to get to know a little about people you would never run into in your normal living. I don’t think you do this stuff for recognition or to score with the Big Guy upstairs, it has to be a way of life a built-in thing. When a bunch of teens were handing out circular’s for the district convention in Tucson (AZ) I spoke to a sweet girl maybe 15 when was dressed nicely and nicely modest, this was just a little odd since it was heading for 114 degrees before the day was over. I had cases of bottled water, maybe 20 bottles chilled in the frig and I asked her if I could get the four kids at the door herself included, along with the 12 kids on the sidewalk, the cold water. Immediately, she said no and that hurt a little. Am I so odd, scary or different that you wouldn’t want to mess with me and this paltry offer? I would call myself an agnostic, but I’m really a nice guy and I felt grateful that she and the others were doing something they considered good on a miserably hot day. I would call it a service an act of charity, in a way, and during summer vacation even. But that wall that goes up between a JW and a non-churcher or a different churcher doesn’t help anyone. Could it be the fear of discovering that we are pretty much the same, not we-worthy vs them-worldly?


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