In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.“ – Psalms 5:3.
In yesterday’ s devotional I outlined the importance of opening our eyes and seeing the need around us. Today we talk about what we can do to help meet the needs of the poor in our area.
As I mentioned yesterday, God calls us to serve and care for the poor, but what does that mean? How are we to care? Each of our responses will be unique and personal, and God calls each of us to love our neighbors in different ways. As such, my thoughts are by no means meant to be a blueprint for what is required. They are merely my limited personal reflections on how we can serve the poor as part of our individual and corporate worship. My goal is not a to-do list, but rather showing God’s love for the poor.
First, I think we need to come to grips with our perception and in some cases prejudices against the poor. The simple fact is some of us were born poor, and it’s not our fault that we’ve stayed poor even if we’ve worked hard all our lives. Remember: Jesus was poor, and so were most of the people He met every day. Think of it: God’s Son was born in a stable, and when He died they placed His body in a borrowed tomb. During His lifetime, Jesus accumulated no property; on one occasion, He pointed out that “foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58). Being poor was no disgrace to God’s only Son – nor should it be to us. Looking down at others has no place in the life of a true Christian.
Second, because it is so hard to love people whom we cannot see and do not know, it is important to open our eyes and connect with the poor. I know the idea of developing a connection with poor people is something that will probably, at least initially, take us outside of our comfort zone. But it can also stretch and grow our compassion and help us love the way God loves. You may even find as many have, that this interaction will bless you more than it does the poor people you interact with. OK, Marty, you need to be a little more specific on what this “connection” means. Connecting with the poor could mean taking a homeless person out for a meal, or volunteering at a homeless shelter.
Third, we can engage the world by being more generous with our money. Christians have historically given more to charity than non-religious people. But can we do better, can we do more? “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:17-18).” We should not trust in our own riches, but should instead allow God to use our money to help the poor. We should give generously. The question is not how much of our money are we willing to give; it is how much of God’s money are we going to keep.
We care about the poor because Jesus cares about the poor and because we were commissioned by Him to preach, heal and deliver those in need.
- What was your first encounter with poverty? How did it affect you?
- Read Luke 18:18-22: When Jesus tells the man about the “one thing” he still lacks, He tells him to sell everything, give the proceeds away to the poor and then to come and follow Him. Do you think the “one thing” is more related to the selling, giving, or following? Why do you think so?
- What do you feel most limited by in life, something on the outside of you (money, schedule, job) or something on the inside of you?
- Read Luke 4:18-19. In what area do you need freedom right now?