16 April, 2023
LOVING AND CARING FOR THE POOR (2)
(Christian Living 20)
God loves the poor and is concerned for them, especially those who belong to His family. If we love God then we will also have His heart and do the same – loving and caring for them. The Bible exhorts and encourages us to bless and help the poor and needy as proof of our love for God and His needy children. Giving and caring for the poor is also a sign that our heart has been changed by the love of God.
When the people who professed to have repented came to be baptized, John the Baptist told them: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Lk 3:11). When Zacchaeus got converted, he said to Jesus: “Lord, here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor…” (Lk 19:8). When the rich young ruler wanted to follow Jesus, he was told: “Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Mk 10:21).
By nature, we are all sinful and selfish and try to keep everything for ourselves. But when we are converted in Christ, we “become a new creation; old things are passed away and all things become new” (2 Cor.5:17). There is now a change of heart because the love of God fills us with compassion for His poor children. Hence the Apostle John says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person” (1 John 3:17). Are we still selfish in heart, or is there a change that results in caring for others, especially the poor and needy?
Job was a godly man and went through a terrible time of testing but remained steadfast in faith and faithful to God. In his conversation with his three “miserable” comforters, he said, ”If I denied the desire of the poor… If I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless… If I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing or a needy man without a clothing (and not blessing him) …then let my arm fall from the shoulder, and let it be broken at the joint” (Job 31: 16-22). All his life Job had compassion for the poor.
When Paul and Barnabas sought the endorsement and blessing of the Apostolic Leaders for their ministry to the Gentiles, they were exhorted to bless the poor. Paul wrote: “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along” (Gal.2:10). Caring for the poor is part and parcel of the Gospel ministry.
The Lord promises that those who bless the poor will be blessed by Him: “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward him for what he has done… He who gives to the poor will lack nothing” (Prov.19:17; 28:27). At the end of life, when we face Christ our King, He will say to us: “I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink…I needed clothes and you clothed Me…Whatever you did for one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you did for Me” (Mtt.25:35-40).
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