Q. There is some confusion among my husband and me and some of our close friends over the meaning of 2 Cor 9:8-9. All of us believe in tithing and practice it, plus we all give above the tithe to other ministries. Some of us believe it says we should give to everyone who ask us for money no matter what. Others say we should try to be discerning in who we give money to. We all want to be generous. If we do not give to everyone who ask us for money or financial support, are we being disobedient to this scripture?
A. In Luke 6:30 Jesus said we should give to everyone who asks, but the context of His statement was loving our enemies. I think He was saying we should not let our personal feelings about a person influence our actions. He was also speaking of casual giving such as a one time handout to someone in need, saying we should default toward helping.
In 2 Cor. 9:8-9 Paul was asking for a more substantial expression of generosity to help the Church in Jerusalem where the people were suffering the effects of a severe famine.
I believe the answer to your question lies in the preceding verse. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7). I believe this verse argues against indiscriminate giving, and tells us to listen to the Holy Spirit’s counsel. This way we will have an abundance for every good work, which is work that the Holy Spirit has confirmed.
By the way, just because a church has started a building fund, or a person wants to go on a mission trip or begin a ministry doesn’t automatically mean it’s a “good work” prompted by the Holy Spirit. Let Him confirm this in your hearts before acting.