“Distributing to the necessity of saints,” Romans 12:13. Thoreau wrote the necessities of life in Walden were, “food, shelter, clothing, and fuel.” It appears much has changed about humans since the 1800’s since according to some, the basic necessities of life include free college, free health care, and high-speed internet access. If high-speed internet were a necessity to life, we’d be in bad shape in Clay County. Other markers of basic necessities include well being, i.e., the place you live is getting better, or a safe and easy place to exercise. I certainly am not downplaying poverty, nor begrudge anyone for working to have any of these things. In my adult life, I’ve gone without and didn’t care for it, and did my best to get out of the situation. When you start putting comforts equal to needs, you will soon have (or already have) a covetous and unthankful heart.
Paul puts down the basic necessities of life in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 as food and raiment. The Bible doesn’t say we can’t have comforts or enjoy what He gives us. But the more you think you are owed something, the more unthankful and indignant you are when you don’t have it. If we have food and clothing, then we should be content. That’s what we need and anything else is gravy on top. Godliness with contentment is great gain and money and possessions are not a danger just for the wealthy. It’s not just those who have money, but those who love it who are in peril. I’ve known a lot of poor people who loved money and coveted after it and wealthy people who had a lot because they loved money and went and got it.
The text speaks of the saints in need, so being without doesn’t automatically mean you are a bad person or bad with your finances. Some kids are born behind the eight ball and are in bad shape before they could even make their own bad decisions. Providence sometimes leaves us empty handed and needy. Many saints have lost it all – ask Job. The ‘prosperity gospel’ is a lie. Saints can have needs. Material prosperity is not a sign of God’s love any more than not having anything is a sign of God’s displeasure. Better to have necessities and be a saint than have it all and go to Hell. Being poor doesn’t make you bad but it also doesn’t make you good. Suffering now doesn’t save you.
The church is charged in Romans to take care of those lacking the necessities in the household of faith. If a man won’t work when he can, having needs are a great motivator. This text doesn’t mean the church is responsible to make sure everyone has all they want and live equally with everyone else. It does mean though, if a brother is starving to death, you ought to put him on the prayer list only after you’ve fed him and got him some groceries.