One-a-Day...for the Heart: What About the Poor?
Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have Me.” (Mark 14:6-8 NLT).
Some opportunities to do good are with us every day—like reading our Bibles, praying, being kind to others, and helping the poor. The Lord notices the poor and has a compassionate heart toward them. He also notices our heart toward the poor. If He were here today in bodily form, He would frequently be looking for the poor and reaching out to them with food, money, clothing, healing, shelter, etc. Jesus is here—He lives in us, and we are commissioned to do His work. If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and He will repay you! (Proverbs 19:17 NLT).
I can’t quite picture the Lord asking me for a couple of bucks or a bus pass or a meal, but when a person in need asks these things of me, I have a golden opportunity to lend a couple bucks or a bus pass or a meal to Jesus. Once Jesus was at a dinner, and He offered some advice… Then he turned to the host. "The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You'll be — and experience — a blessing. They won't be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned — oh, how it will be returned! — at the resurrection of God's people” (Luke 14:12-14 MSG).
There’s something so satisfying in giving a gift or aid to someone who has no way to repay the kindness. God’s amazing law of sowing and reaping proves true every time we exercise it, for His graciousness, kindness, and provision are extended to the recipient as well as the giver. Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed (Proverbs 28:27 NLT).
We need a sense of discernment at times, in reaching out to those who ask for money especially, for there are some who are freeloaders and abusers, and we do not help them by enabling their addictions or laziness. Although we are not to judge others, the Lord will give us wisdom to discern those truly in need.
I recall a situation when my son modeled tenderness and wisdom in dealing with a beggar on a street corner, across from our hotel. Rather than giving him cash, which most likely would have been used to purchase alcohol or drugs, my son bought him food, not once, but several times throughout the day, and during the duration of our stay there. He did not make a huge production of his acts of kindness, but talked with the beggar as one would with a friend. I saw Jesus in that, and my heart swelled with pride. So did the Lord’s, I’m sure!
Our motive in helping the poor must not be to gain rewards for ourselves, but the truth is that the Lord showers us with a variety of blessings, as listed in Psalm 41:1-3 (NLT): Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health. All that from being kind to the poor!
An angel told Cornelius, who was a captain in the Italian regiment of the Roman military and noted as one who gave generously to the poor, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering!” (Acts 10:5 NLT). Although Cornelius was known for his generous help to the poor, he may have given anonymously at times, when no one but the Lord knew or saw his gifts. How precious such giving is! Giving out of our own place of need is equally as significant to the Lord, for it is a statement of faith in God’s provision for both the giver and the receiver.
Note the exclamation point at the end of the angel’s words in Acts 10:5: “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering!” An exclamation point indicates forceful utterance or strong feeling, as in shouting. There are shouts in heaven when we give to the poor! So let’s extend our hands to the poor, and make some noise!
© 2022, Chris Werre