One of the most important things that we are called to do as believers is to care for the poor as a reflection of God’s love that is in us. Yet, this continues to be an area of weakness for many. My hope, as we search the scriptures, is that God’s word would take root in our hearts and produce generosity, love, and obedience concerning this call of caring for the poor. I encourage you to see for yourself in the scriptures how much this really matters to God. Then you can have a conversation with God about what you should do. But first, let’s look at what the Bible says:
SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES
“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 19:9-10, emphasis added)
The Lord gives this command to the Israelites as they settle into the land that God promised them. In essence, God commands the people saying, “When you harvest your grain, leave some behind! If the harvester drops anything he harvested, even if it was on accident, leave it there so the poor can have food. The edged of your field, don’t even touch! Leave it for the poor.” Do you see how intentional God is about this? Remember the harvest to them was not just their food, it was their time, their energy, and their money. This cost them something. I imagine the kind of thoughts I would have as an Israelite in that time. “But, what if no one eats them and it goes bad? What a waste. What if people take advantage of the generosity?” Yet, God makes it clear and reminds them ,”I am the Lord your God.” In other words, “remember Egypt? How I miraculously saved you. Gave you bread from heaven, and water from the rock, and when you got tired of the bread, I gave you meat to eat. Remember, I am the Lord your God.”
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27)
James as he is talking about not merely listening but doing God’s word says that pure religion in God’s sight is to care for the orphan and widow. What an amazing statement! Of all the examples that James could have used, he illustrates that a person who does the word of God is someone who cares for the poor. Think on that for a moment.
"A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need." (Acts 2:43-45)
Most of us know the story of Acts 2 where the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, empowering those such as Peter to preach with boldness to the masses. People were being saved. Miracles, signs and wonders were breaking out. Even now these are the kinds of things we long to witness, as we ask the Lord for revival to come. Yet I wonder if we are missing part of the picture. They saw miraculous signs and wonders, but they also shared everything they had. The believers would sell their property and possession in radical generosity and love towards those in need. This was a Holy Spirit inspired movement among the believers. Radical generosity went hand in hand with radical boldness. I want both! I want to see the sick healed in Jesus name, but I also want a love than counts it a greater blessing to give rather than receive. I want the mind of Christ, considering the interest of others before myself (Phil. 2:3-4). We forget how simple it is. God so loved the world he gave his only Son. The natural expression of love is to give. We associate many things with being filled with the Holy Spirit. Things such as boldness, the anointing, or operating in spiritual gifts. What about radical generosity?
DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR FATHER IS?
In my walk with the Lord, I have always tried to value and live with generosity. Though I am not by any means the best example for this lifestyle, I thank God for giving me the grace to grow in this area. I remember thinking that for the most part, it came fairly easier to me than expected. And trust me, it was not because I was more spiritual or mature. But I wondered why and asked the Lord to show me. God began to reveal to me that it was something I learned from my dad. I started to remember the countless times my dad would just give! Always paying for other people's meals--and I really mean always! Thinking back on it now, it doesn’t make sense. Always giving to missions, not just with money but his time. At one point, I remember my parents would go on missions every year! The Lord was showing me that a generous lifestyle was something I learned and received from my dad. My point is this: you have a heavenly Father who is unbelievably generous. Learn from him. Learn to look for it as you read scripture. Remember his generosity in your own lives. Church, we give because we are rich in Christ! If you do not consider yourself rich, you are looking at the wrong account. Look to heaven. Fix your eyes on Jesus. You will find that you are rich indeed.
WHERE DO I START?
I am glad you asked! How wonderful is it that you have an opportunity to participate and be intentional about caring for the poor as a ministry. Yes, I am talking about Compassion. I think it is great that the house churches are sponsoring children as groups, but I want to challenge you to consider sponsoring a child on your own. You might say, “but I’m poor.” Just for a moment, think about how many Starbucks (can’t forget Stereoscope & In-Sit), milk teas, and ice creams you buy in the span of one month. If it’s about 8 times a month you are probably spending the amount it takes to sponsor a child. To put it another way, it costs roughly $1.20 a day to sponsor a child. What does $1.20 a day get for the child? Not only food, but better healthcare, clothing, school supplies, and a chance for education. The best part? It is all done through local churches where the children live, which means they get the chance to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
HAVE AN ETERNAL MINDSET
One day, you and I, after we have lived our lives, will be in glory with Jesus forever. This is the glorious hope of our inheritance in Christ, when God will make all things new, and wipe away every tear. Imagine on that day, you see the child that you sponsored. They are there as a part of God’s family rejoicing with you! Imagine them recalling the story of their lives, how they came to the Lord through their local church and the journey of their walk with the Lord. I think of Jesus uttering those words from Matthew 25 saying, “I was hungry and you fed, I was naked and you clothed me.” Will you care then, that you couldn’t drink as much boba? Or that you couldn’t eat Korean BBQ? I think not. Can I challenge you? Live with heaven in mind and store your treasures there.