Helping the Poor and Needy
Helping the Poor and Needy
Helping the poor and needy I believe isn't just a suggestion of something nice that we could do, but is a requirement of any true Christian, after all, Jesus said that if we walk by a man in need without helping, then we are doing the same to Him. If you are worshipping God in spirit and truth, then I believe you would automatically want to help anyone in need. It's amazing and very sad that we live in a day and age of great wealth, possessions and huge WASTE, and yet there are millions of people dying all around the world of hunger, which the food we waste could probably feed them and keep them alive. Just look at the amount of money is wasted by professing Christians during the Christmas period. Billions upon Billions of God's money is wasted on vain gifts for people who already have enough, while the poor and needy continue to starve to death!
If only we Christians would get together and say enough is enough, and use our money together to help the poor and needy and to further God's kingdom on this earth, we would have a great revival on our hands!
So what should we do as Christians who worship God in spirit and truth? Let's look at what the bible says about helping the poor and needy.
Exodus 22:25 ...'If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.' ... One of the early laws that God gave was that His people should not lend money to the poor and charge interest on it. Don't forget, God's law is a law of love, so we should be willing to give money to those in need without wanting more back. But this law is exalted even further in the New Testament.
Matthew 5:42 ...'Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.'
Acts 20:35 ...'I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
As true Christians worshipping God in spirit and truth, we should be looking to help anyone in need, without thinking of what we can get out of it. Our money belongs to God, and we are just looking after it for Him, so we should be looking to use it wisely and giving it to the poor who really need it.
Exodus 23:3 ...'Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.' ... This means that we should not side with a poor and needy man in any dispute. Just because one person in a dispute may be poor, we still need to show fairness to both parties, and not show favoritism, which this next verse confirms ... Leviticus 19:15 ...'Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.' ... Everything we do should be done righteously before God. Yes, we need to help the poor, but do not take sides with them in judgment, just because they are poor. Judge righteously.
Leviticus 23:22 ...'And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.' ... God has compassion on the poor, and we should too!
One thing people do these days is to make excuses as to why they don't help the poor and needy. Take for example beggars on the street. So many Christians walk by these people without a thought. And the main excuse today seems to be, "well, I couldn't be certain that he was actually poor, or whether he was just trying to make some money." Are you going to stand before Jesus and give this excuse? Who are we to judge a beggars motives? Even if that person wasn't a real beggar who was in need, Jesus knows our hearts. If we walk by making excuses, Jesus will know that we have not shown love, but if we willingly give out of love, even if that beggar isn't what he seems, then Jesus will see that we didn't judge that person and gave out of love for Him. We need to stop making excuses and start following our Lord and Saviour.
"Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your family), to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless, and indeed as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of mankind. How can you, how dare you, defraud your LORD, by applying it to any other purpose." (John Wesley)
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 ...'If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.'
This isn't a suggestion, it's a command. God commands us to open our hands WIDE in giving to the poor and needy amongst us. And we are certainly not to do it in a begrudging way, but out of love, as part of our worship to God in spirit and truth. If we do not do this and we hold on to the money as if it was OURS, then the cry of the poor will be against us, and it will be unto us as sin.
2 Samuel 12:4-5 ...'And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die.' ... In God's eyes, taking advantage of the poor and needy and mistreating them is a terrible sin, and surely those who do mistreat the poor and needy have no love in them at all.
Job 34:19 ...'How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands.' ..... We are ALL the work of God's hands, and He treats us all the same. Just because a man is rich, it doesn't mean that God favors him. We should also adopt the same attitude and treat everyone the same, rich or poor. This Bible teaching was confirmed in the New Testament ... James 2:1-4 ...'My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?' ... Do not show partiality.
If we ridicule or deride the poor and needy person, then we are speaking evil against God, as the following bible verses from Proverbs confirm:
Proverbs 14:31 ...'He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.'
Proverbs 17:5 ...'Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.'
There is another bible verse in Proverbs that gives me great sadness, and must give great sadness to God also, but it is true of the world we live in ... Proverbs 19:4 ...'Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.' ... How sad that people want to make friends with popular and wealthy people, but the poor and needy are ignored. This must break Jesus' heart.
Proverbs 19:17 ...'He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.' ... Jesus confirmed this Bible verse when He said in Matthew 25:40 ...'And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' ... Whatever we do to the poor and needy, we do to Jesus. So remember that Bible verse, the next time you walk by someone in need. We should not only give to the poor, but we should be a voice for them ... Proverbs 31:9 ...'Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.'
We also need to help the poor and needy person by telling them about Jesus, and about the great hope that there is in Him ... Matthew 11:5 ...'The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.'
Remember the rich man who came to Jesus and asked Him how to gain eternal life? Now this rich man told Jesus that he had kept the Commandments since he was young. But the Commandments of God are based on love, and if this rich man had REALLY kept the Commandments, then he would have used his great wealth to help the poor and needy ... Matthew 19:21 ...'Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.' ... If we are to follow Jesus then we need to give up our money and possessions for Him. Unfortunately, this rich man had great wealth and went away sad, because he didn't want to let go of it. Therefore, his god was his wealth, and in God's eyes this man was not keeping the Commandments in spirit and truth.
"When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart." (John Wesley)
We live in a day where there is great wealth and much possessions. Take a look at your life. Have a look around your house and see just how much 'stuff' you have that you don't need ... Luke 12:33 ...'Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.' ... This Bible verse could be taken as 'sell what you don't need' and give to the poor. Either way, we need to give a lot more than we do. It's amazing that Christians even struggle to give a small tithe to their church. Jesus gave His life for you. Do you think giving a small amount of change in the collection each week is enough? Or sponsoring a child for five pound a month is really giving? ... Luke 19:8 ...'And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.' ... Jesus was pleased with Zacchaeus for this, and said that salvation had come to his house that day! This is the sort of giving to the poor and needy that Jesus is looking for, not a few pennies each week.
Luke 14:12-14 ...'Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.' ... Do things for those (poor and needy) who cannot repay you.
Galatians 2:10 ...'Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.' ... Always remember the poor and needy. Pray for them and help them however you can.
But remember that all this should be done in spirit and truth. We should be willing to help the poor out of love, not out of duty. God does not want us to serve Him out of duty, but love ... 1 Corinthians 13:3 ...'And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.' ... It counts as nothing to God if we do not do it out of pure love ... 2 Corinthians 9:7 ...'Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.' ... Be happy to give, with compassion on those you are helping, and God will bless you for it. Now some people attribute the above verse to mean that if we decide to give just a little, and spend the rest on themselves, then that is ok. This is not the teaching of Jesus, and if you weigh this up with all the other Bible verses that say we should give all to the poor and needy then it shows that thinking is wrong. Afterall, Jesus told the Pharisees that it was right to continue to tithe. Tithing is necessary to keep the church going, but we as Christians should be willing to give over and above just the tithe.
Malachi 3:8-10 ...'Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.'
Many people save up huge amounts of money for a "rainy day". Here's a radical idea!! How about we start SPENDING that money to further God's Kingdom?!
Out of all this, there is one thing we need to be very careful about. And that is not to do our giving in a boastful way, or to do it to get praise from man ... Matthew 6:1-3 ...'Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.' ... Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Everything we do should be with the aim to glorify God, not ourselves. Worshipping God in spirit and truth, means to bring glory to Him, not ourselves.
I believe the bible teaches us that helping the poor and needy is a vital part of being a true Christian, and is part of our worship to God in spirit and truth. Giving a 10% tithe was a law that I believe should not be forgotten. Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees said ... Matthew 23:23 ...'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.' ... We are not to leave tithing undone, meaning we should still tithe. But the gospel message shows us that we should go far beyond just tithing. Jesus gave His life for us, so we should give our all for Him, including our money and possessions to help those in need.
I plead with you to give your all to Jesus and worship Him in spirit and truth, and to be a cheerful giver, helping the poor and needy.