JESUS VS PAUL #17: Aid poor or not?

The following apparent contradiction comes from JESUS VS PAUL #17: Aid poor or not?

(17) Jesus–“If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” (Matt. 19:21) versus Paul–“For every man shall bear his own burden” (Gal. 6:5). One can’t help but ask why people are obligated to aid the poor if every man is supposed to bear his own burden.

Let us examine what Jesus said in Matthew 19:16-26.

16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

18“Which ones?” the man inquired.

Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Notice the context was what is necessary to be saved. The idea is that following God will lead one to help others instead of being focused on material things. Selling everything and giving it to the poor is an expression of the love one should have for God. Indeed, apparently it will help you gain trasure in heaven. But does the idea of selling what you have and giving to the poor contradict what God taught through Paul? Let us look at it in context.

Galatians 6:1-10

1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load.

6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Paul was clear in Galatians 6:2 that we are to help each other out, to carry each others’ burdens. The idea is express the love we are to have for God and others by helping others. In Galatians 6:5, where Paul says to be responsible for your own load, Paul is not contradicting himself or Jesus. We ARE responsible for ourselves, and will answer for what we do in this life. We see this in John 5:28-39

28“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

We see this idea again in Jude verse 14-16

14Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

And again, in Jesus’s own words in Matthew 16:27

27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

So yes, we ARE responsible for our own actions and to bear our own burdens. But at the same time, we are to not focus on the material things, but to help out others who need it. We see this is what the early church did, in Acts 2:42-47

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Sometimes, even when we do our best, we find ourselves in need. Examples of this would be illness preventing us from working, or fire destroying everything we have, or our paycheck not being sufficient to cover the cost of our families’ needs. In times like that, someone who loves God should give to those who are in need.

So no, there is no contradiction between what Jesus said and what Paul said. We are to give to those in need, AND we are to do the best we can in bearing our own burdens.


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