What does it mean “give to everyone who asks of you”?

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By BibleAsk Team


The directive to “give to everyone who asks of you” is a statement attributed to Jesus Christ, recorded in the New Testament. It is found in Matthew 5:42 as part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus teaches his disciples about various aspects of righteous living. This teaching has profound implications for Christians regarding generosity, compassion, and discernment in responding to the needs of others. Let’s explore this topic in detail, referencing the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

Context of the Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew chapters 5 to 7, is one of the most well-known and revered teachings of Jesus. It begins with the Beatitudes, which outline the characteristics of those who are blessed in the kingdom of God. Throughout the sermon, Jesus addresses topics such as righteousness, anger, lust, love for enemies, prayer, fasting, and material possessions.

Matthew 5:42 – “Give to Him Who Asks of You”

Matthew 5:42 records Jesus’ words: “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” This statement comes in the context of Jesus’ teaching on loving one’s enemies and showing kindness to those who mistreat you. It underscores the principle of generosity and selflessness in responding to the needs of others, even when it may be inconvenient or challenging.

The stress in Jesus’ instruction is on the necessity of the Christian to have a generous heart that is ready to give. He will not withhold his resources when he has the capacity to assist others. He will be willing to cooperate with others rather than reject them. In doing so, he will be following Jesus’ example who left heaven to come suffer and die to save humanity (John 6:38; John 15:13).

Principle of Generosity

At its core, Jesus’ directive to “give to everyone who asks of you” reflects the principle of generosity. Throughout his ministry, Jesus emphasized the importance of caring for the marginalized, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and showing compassion to those in need. In Matthew 25:35-36, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

Proverbs 19:17 states, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given.” Isaiah 58:7-8 exhorts, “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?”

Discernment and Wisdom

The Bible also teaches the importance of discernment and wisdom in giving. While Jesus encourages generosity, it’s essential to interpret his words in the context of broader biblical principles. The instruction to share does not mean to grant the person asking everything he asks for, nor does it require one to share something every time he is asked.

A Christian is not obliged to share indiscriminately, regardless of the need. The giver must take into consideration the truthfulness of the need that is presented to him and he should make sure that in giving he is not cultivating a spirit of dependency and laziness by those that ask.

The Bible clearly teaches that “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Adam was told “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:19). The Savior Himself, worked as “the carpenter,” thus, setting for us a worthy example to follow (Mark 6:3). Every person should work so that, in addition to supporting himself, he is able to help the needy (Ephesians 4:28).

Addressing Systemic Issues

Jesus’ directive to give to those who ask of us also prompts reflection on systemic issues of poverty, injustice, and inequality. While individual acts of generosity are commendable, addressing the root causes of poverty and advocating for systemic change are also essential aspects of biblical justice.

Offering opportunities of education and acquiring knowledge to the less fortunate is a great way of improving their lives. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Boundaries and Self-Care

While Christians are called to be generous, it’s also important to recognize the importance of boundaries and self-care. Giving should not lead to exploitation or enable destructive behavior. Jesus himself withdrew to solitary places for prayer and rest, demonstrating the need for balance in caring for others while also attending to one’s own well-being.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Jesus’ directive to “give to everyone who asks of you” challenges Christians to embody the principles of generosity, compassion, and selflessness in their interactions with others. This teaching underscores the importance of caring for the marginalized, responding to the needs of the poor, and advocating for justice and mercy. However, it’s essential to interpret this directive in the context of broader biblical principles, including discernment, wisdom, and self-care. Ultimately, Christians are called to reflect the love and generosity of Christ in their words and actions, seeking to honor God and serve others with humility and compassion.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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