Should Christians Only Help Other Christians?

Should Christians help the poor? The immediate response for most of us is, “of course.” But we’ve heard from people who believe Christians should only help other Christians. Their rationale is based on the stories of the early church that involve believers helping one another – not the poor in general.

While the Bible certainly encourages believers to help one another, such as in Acts 2:45, doesn’t it also command us to love others, help others and give generously, without regard to a person’s beliefs?

This opinion was a bit surprising, especially for those of us who believe so strongly in feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and healing the sick. We serve those in greatest need, regardless of race, gender or religion. We take joy in serving others, expecting nothing in return.

Helping a woman in Somalia
A World Concern staff member listens to the needs of an elderly muslim widow in Somalia.

Jesus certainly helped many people who were not necessarily believers. When he fed the 5,000, he didn’t require his disciples who were distributing the fish and loaves to verify each person’s beliefs.

Prior to telling the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus referred an expert in the law to what he must do to inherit eternal life. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The man asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then told the parable, in which a priest ignores a man who had been beaten by robbers, but a Samaritan helps him. Jesus then instructs his listener to “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus certainly did not require conversion before ministering to people. His healing touch or words were often what opened someone’s heart to receive his love and forgiveness. We find that same principle at work in our service to the poor every day.

A Sri Lankan man who had lost everything in the war, told us, “Our suffering and hardship caused us to question whether there is a God. But through the continued support and love shown towards us by the World Concern staff, we believe that there is a God and we now have hope in life.”

What if we hadn’t helped this man because he was not a Christian? He would have given up on God. Our help was the tangible expression of God’s love he needed in order to believe.

A pastor who supports World Concern says, “Jesus came with a message and a mission. Sometimes churches are all about the message and forget about the mission.”

Like this pastor, we believe it’s important to share Christ’s love in word and deed. In situations where appropriate, we offer an opportunity to hear the gospel. But what about the places where we can’t? Should those people be left to starve or die of thirst? In contexts hostile to Christianity, our witness is simply reflected through the work we do.

In the verse above, we are commanded to love our neighbor. That’s why we do what we do. Just like in the Good Samaritan story, our “neighbor” is often someone with whom we have nothing in common.

I have a friend who went to church pregnant and unmarried. The love and support she received led her to recommit her life to Christ. Today, 20 years later, she’s happily married, a mother of three, and a committed Christian. She admits, had she been hit with the gospel the minute she walked in the door of that church, she would have never returned.

If we were to plunk ourselves into a drought or disaster stricken community and start preaching the gospel, with no offer to help, very few people would be receptive. Practical help often opens the door to be able to share why we do what we do.

 

Published by

Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt is World Concern's Marketing and Communications Director. With a background in journalism, Cathy honed her writing skills as a newspaper editor and now enjoys sharing the inspiring stories of those World Concern serves. She has served with World Concern since 2010.

9 thoughts on “Should Christians Only Help Other Christians?”

    1. I have not heard anyone say that Christians should only help Christians here in Australia. I find the idea rather foolish and not Scriptural.

      I do think that Scripture does declare that Christians are to be a higher priority though:

      Galatians 6:10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith.

      This verse shows that we are to be helping non-christians clearly, but especially to the family of faith.

  1. here i would like to say not just good virtues, but would like to state situations of contemporary society. i would start by questioning, if western believers really help believers of east or say helped in past, would believers be suffering today? Philemon 1:16, Paul here didnt tell the master to free the slave or treat him well, he said the slave is no more a slave and a brother to you in Christ? does this proves that believers are more important to each other than being just a fellow human? galatians 6:2 – carry each others burden? this way you will fulfill law in Christ? here too check if no other way fulfills the law, but only sharing other believers burden does? why believer so willingly say be good to others, and not be good to all? just a thought 🙂 God bless

  2. just a thought, if western believers loved believers of other areas as their brothers and sisters in Christ ,they would have helped raise the economic status of believers of non west areas , so that eastern believers wont suffer….i dont think its a big deal for them….but the question is do they love each other or love only western christian?

  3. Jesus came to save the world,not condem it, while we were yet sinners Jesus DIED for us, why on earth would we not be compassionate and help others Christian and non Christian alike

  4. Why do people mis-interpret the story of the “Good Samaritan?” The Samaritan was a despised religious minority (Jewish half breeds). The man who was beaten by robbers was a JEW. It was a JEWISH priest and a pharisee that did not help THEIR OWN, the Jewish man. Jesus shames the Jews for not helping their own, by having a despised religious minority help the Jew. People often say “the Samaritan was a minority” and that this proves we should help non-Christians. However, the Samaritan was NOT THE ONE who was in need of help. It was a Jew in need of help. The Samaritan was the “foil” in the story, used to shame the Jews for not helping their own. The one who does not help his own kind, and especially those of his family is worse than an infidel. Look it up. I Tim 5:8. Yes the Bible says this. It also says we must care first for the household of faith, our own family, the body of Christ.
    Should we refuse a person who is not a Christian? No, but we should not pursue major efforts at helping non Christians (as in major aid ministries to non Christians) UNTIL we have FIRST helped our own. Otherwise, we are worse than infidels. If you see a hurt person, or there is a natural disaster, sure, go ahead you should help. But to primarily focus on big operations that do not specifically target helping Christians first is anti-scriptural.

  5. I go to a prayer group at my church. I live alone. Last year, I had several operations. My recuperation , at home, took months.

    Now then…I belong to a prayer group. There is a woman in the prayer group who lives a block away from me. I asked her to drive me to the hospital. She said it was too far away. For the next several months, my neighbor never called me once, never asked if I needed help. She has her family and did not want to be bothered. Yet, she listens, daily to a Christian radio program and tells me I also should listen to it, as well. In our prayer group, she prays for others, etc.

    I hope, as long as I live, to never be like her. I hope I will NEVER think only of myself and talk Christianity. I hope I will see the needs of my neighbors and respond to them, whether those in need are Christian or not.

    This woman is repugnant to me. I don’t even feel like praying with her.

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