I’m been struck by all the references to the poor in Scripture.
- “If there is a poor person among you, one of your brothers within any of your city gates in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Instead, you are to open your hand to him and freely loan him enough for whatever need he has” (Deut. 15:7-8).
- “Kindness to the poor is a loan to the Lord, and he will give a reward to the lender” (Prov. 19:17).
- “Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matt. 5:42).
- “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same” (Luke 3:11).
- “When you host a banquet, invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:13-14).
- “They asked only that we would remember the poor, which I had made every effort to do” (Gal. 2:10).
- “If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him — how does God’s love reside in him?” (1 John 3:17)
God has said a lot about the poor and our treatment of them. I could continue quoting Scripture, but you get the point. The poor matter to God. All people matter to God, of course, since we are all made in His image, but He seems to have a special place in His heart for the unfortunate among us. Maybe it’s because the rest of us often overlook them. We don’t even see them. Or worse, we treat them unjustly.
God’s Word doesn’t just point our attention to the poor; His Word repeatedly calls us to take care of them. How are you doing with that? How am I doing??
Last night, I was a good husband and escorted my wife to Hobby Lobby. As we left the building, we passed the seemingly-ever-present Salvation Army bucket and bell ringer. My wife commented on how hard it would be to stand there and ring a bell in the cold. And then she asked me, “Have you ever dropped money in their bucket?”
I had to ponder that. Finally, I said, “I don’t think I ever have.”
Don’t get me wrong. I think the Salvation Army is a solid Christian organization that does much good. I’ve just never given to their work for the poor. I could make excuses. “I do all my giving through the church.” “I rarely have any coins or cash on me.” I give through the benevolence ministry of my church, but that’s about it. In other words, I am only passively involved in the lives of the poor.
I live in affluence. I’m not rich by American standards. I am not even upper middle class. By all standards, I am decidedly middle class—which still means I am affluent.
- I live in a nice house with central heat and air.
- I never miss a meal. In fact, I’m able to eat out more often than I should.
- I own two good, reliable cars that are fully insured. When the time came to replace a car, I did so without blinking an eye.
- I’m able to surround our Christmas tree with gifts for the whole family.
So, yes, I live in affluence. I feel the conviction to responsibly serve others through what God has given me. Therefore, I’m making this my prayer:
God, I love my comforts. I enjoy the way I live. But what do You want me to do to use my affluence and position to do as Paul did and “remember the poor?” (Gal. 2:10).
Make me sensitive to those around me. Keep me from just seeing past them; instead, lead me to see people as You see them and to love them as You love them. Remind me of Your great generosity to me, and grant me a heart—a passion—for expressing Your generosity to those around me who need help. Make me like Your Son, Jesus, who “though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
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