How Are We To Relate To The Poor?

The other morning as I walked from my guest house out to the street to catch a ride, I passed by a family of five sleeping on a cardboard mat. Throughout the day I was plagued by the memory of that family.


The next morning I again passed this family who were just rising from their night on the street. A short distance away I noticed a street vendor dispensing bowls of food to passersby. Motioning to the family, I asked if they might be interested in eating breakfast. Without hesitation they ran toward me to take up my offer. Moments later, as they were devouring their food, I caught a ride and was off to a hotel for a breakfast appointment. On a whim, while waiting for my guest, I picked up a copy of the British news magazine, The Economist.


It then occurred to me that the cost of purchasing the magazine was about the same as feeding that family of five. For the family, sharing my loose change meant a few hours of relief from hunger; for me it spelled a couple of hours of informed reading.


I don’t know about you, but I am vexed when it comes to the issue of the poor. If I loved them as myself, would I have as many toys? Or live at a level so excessively beyond such economically marginalized people? Just how do I process Jesus’ statement:


Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33, 34)


Certainly God will reward us if we reach out to the poor, and punish us if we don’t:


He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” (Proverbs 28:27) (See also Deuteronomy 15:10; Proverbs 19:17; Psalm 41:1-4; Isaiah 58:7; James 2:14-26)


Four truths come to mind as I wrestle through this difficult issue:


1. Jesus did not attempt to meet everyone’s needs. (John 5:1-8)


2. Helping others is to be on a priority basis. (Galatians 6:10)


3. Surely I must help others if I possess the capability. (Proverbs 3:27, 28; 1 John 3:16-18)


4. Jesus placed high value on sacrificial giving. (Mark 12:41-44)


QUESTION: When we do meet Jesus at the Judgment, will He view our earthly sojourn as one characterized by greed, or generosity? (1 Corinthians 5:9, 10) (See also Romans 14:10; Galatians 6:7; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:24, 25)



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