I believe we need to give in ways that meet immediate needs but also create personal responsibility and ownership. Jesus himself said the poor will always be with you. There will always be needs which many times are genuine that we should give to, however look for opportunities that “teach someone to fish instead of only giving them a fish”. The following is a quote from Dennis Peacocke:
Educated people…seem to feel good about themselves when they “show compassion” and heap financial aid on the poor…Never mind that the so-called “good intentions” usually hurt the people receiving the aid in the long run…Look at what Swedish economist Fredrik Erixon pointed out on the effects of aid to Africa:
Africa received over $400 billion in aid between 1970 and 2000. Yet, the evidence presented in the study shows an inverse relationship between aid and economic growth— when aid rises, growth falls. In part, this is because aid supplants private-sector investment and undermines savings: there is also an inverse relationship between savings and aid— when aid increases, saving decreases. (Business Reform Magazine, Sept/Oct 2005)
The answer is to separate pure charity, which is biblical, from investment, which is also biblical. Supply essential food, shelter, and clothing and set up investment opportunities to train and employ people to acquire real skills and real jobs. Dignity is as important as care, and care that steals dignity by maintaining poverty is cruel.
Honestly, this is easier to say than to do. There are some very bright minds trying to develop ways to do this. It is possible. Micro-finance loan funds are small loans that help poor individuals in developing countries create jobs for themselves. This is one example of something that has been proven to work. The truth is we have to find more ways to do this. If we don’t, then people become discouraged with their giving. If they meet the need but it is still there again next month it can lead to weariness in giving. The truth of Prov. 19:19 resonates loudly.
Don’t rescue someone or you will have to do it again. Prov. 19:19
We understand giving as the core component of God’s economy. This core is central to the message of Biblical prosperity. Remember Abraham was blessed to be a blessing. Let’s ask God for wisdom in our giving.
Thanks very much for this reflexion Apostel Brian, this is exactly one of the thoughts that I am sharing in our Fishers of Kids Ministry : ”Give a child a fish and he will eat one day, teach him to fish and he will eat everyday”.
Yes…God help us to develop new approaches and learn.
Thank you for this discussion, Brian. Finding ways to help that do not inadvertently hurt is at times a challenge — but we certainly need to press in to these approaches.