Proverbs 27:13 Charity

13 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
    hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.

Charity

I remember a school master at Plympton Grammar School reading from the King James Version (KJV) Bible.  He read 1 Corinthians 13 and in the place of ‘love’ he read ‘charity’.  I have thought of charity along the lines of handouts that are given to the weak.  People I respected growing up would snarl, “I don’t need your charity!” when someone tried to help them.  The traditional view of ‘charity’, helping the weak is upheld in Proverbs 27:13.  However, many of my Christian friends in America are skeptical of helping the poor in America.  If we go beyond charity to welfare, you might anticipate the kind of discussions I have.  Charity from the church, or welfare from the state are seen as cushions that encourage laziness.  It is funny how charitable Americans are to those overseas, but often less charitable to a person on welfare in their own country.  It is argued that the church administrates more righteously than the government, and more efficiently too.  I have not seen data to back this up, I would like to see some evidence that the church is actually less wasteful than the government.  Also, who helps the agnostic and atheist to show charity to their neighbour?

When someone comes to us in dire straits and is in need of cash, the principle of the passage is that God would have us pawn their belongings for them.  We should help someone in their time of need.  Welfare and charities are often broken, but does that mean we should eliminate them?

Another side to this is the ability to accept charity.  It is easier for the proud to give magnanimously than it is to humble ourselves and accept that we need charity.  If we take charity back to 1 Corinthians 13.  We all need to give and receive charity.  It is the practical love of God that flows through the community of faith.

Questions

  1. How does Proverbs 27:13 reflect charity?
  2. How are the words charity and love connected?
  3. How are religion and state separated in ancient Israel?  How does this relate to charity?
  4. If the truth of God for the world is that we are socially responsible for our neighbour, how is this administrated for those who are not believers?
  5. Why do so many believers want to eliminate state sponsored charity (welfare)?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to Proverbs 27:13 Charity

  1. Kelli says:

    The passage I have most often heard quoted in the argument against welfare is 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. An often cited verse is v. 10: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” This passage is a charge against laziness. So I think the Bible does teach us here to work for our sustinance and not support idleness. However, this must be balanced with the other many passages that instruct us to care for the widow and the orphan, to “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan seems to also provide a model of compassion for those in need, of going the extra mile to help. The church in Acts “had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” I do believe that the American church falls far short of this ideal. The Safe Famlies program is one example of how God has used the church in recent years to help those who are struggling. They have been able to help thousands of families by caring for their children. Yes, we know stories of people who have abused this service. But I don’t think that means you have to shut the whole thing down. I would love to see the church step up and take a greater role in social service. But I don’t think this necessarily means that state sponsored programs should all go away.

  2. Carrie says:

    I think it is an amazing task to be able to humble yourself to receive charity. Many people will never do this is their life on earth. I have struggled with humbling myself in our families time of need. Would I ever go to a food pantry or clothing closet to get free hand me downs…. No. Though, I am not a “better” person than anyone that does utilize these resources, I am actually probably “weaker” in a pride sense. God asks us to humble ourselves and be weak. The struggle with these resources, including welfare, etc are when it becomes cyclical and people don’t use these as resources to help them to get on track but as the backbone of their being. When no effort is made to move forward or try to make changes. These situations are often what put people off about the system. I think we often forget that generation after generation is not taught how to move forward but only how to “survive” and it is seen through living off of these resources. If we can humble ourselves and give the love of Christ with charity it will guide others to learn a new way.

  3. Kim says:

    Kelli and Carrie,
    Thanks for posting your opinions. I have similar views as both of you but did not know how to put them into words:)
    Another thing the Chapel does is the Community Care center which seems to have a huge outreach.

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