We live in a culture which makes it easy to forget about those who are poor and in need, simply because most of us are rich, compared to the standards of the rest of the world, and we have far more than we need. Yet the Scriptures command us never to forget the poor; we are to remember—not just with our minds, but with our hands and our feet too.
John [the Baptist] answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11)
Did you ever wonder why God allows many of His children to live in poverty? If God so wished, He could make them all rich beyond all measure. When the Israelites were freed from bondage in Egypt, they left with many valuables because God caused the Egyptians to give their wealth to His people. When the Israelites had no food in the wilderness, the Lord sent manna from heaven and quail on the winds to feed them. To the amazement of His disciples, Jesus fed 5,000-plus people with only five loaves and two fish. God could give everyone an abundance of everything, but He chooses not to do this.
W e know by faith that God always knows best . . . so if the poor could be made rich in an instant and they are not, what does God want us to do about it? We are to remember the poor and respond to them, which Paul said he was “eager to do” (Galatians 2:10).
One of the greatest opportunities we have to demonstrate the love of Christ to a hurting world is to minister to the needs, both spiritual and physical, of the poor. We have the privilege of sharing Christ with a fallen, hurting, and broken world by meeting their most pressing need: forgiveness. So we preach the Gospel. But we also have the privilege of sharing Christ by meeting physical needs. Charles Spurgeon profoundly put an exclamation on this point:
If there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in almsgiving to His poorer brethren; He has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by Him. Those who are dear to Him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord’s flock.
There are many blessings to be found in ministering to the poor, but there is no greater blessing than the truth of these words of Jesus:
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)
To be sure, it brings great joy to God’s people to minister and meet the needs of others. God has changed our nature to begin looking for opportunities to lay our lives down for others—all others, including the poor and marginalized. And as we do so to the least of these, our King accepts our service as if it was done unto Him. Wow! What a great and gracious God we serve, who gives us the privilege of serving Him by serving others.
In 2 Corinthians 8:9, we see how strongly our God identifies with the poor, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” May we, by His grace, never forget the poor and the privilege we have in meeting them in their place of need. In meeting with them there, we also meet with our God.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!