From Deuteronomy 15:11, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I commend you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land’”
From the dawn of civilization, we have always had the needy. Today we see them everywhere throughout the country. Misfortune, mental illness and addiction have claimed victim after victim. Tent cities are common place, especially in our larger cities. Desperation is claiming many souls and the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better. The needy continue to grow in population.
As long as there have been people, there have been those in need. After the fall, sin brought with it a thousand different causes for people to be without food, shelter and hope. The devil encourages this by convincing people to search for other gods like drugs, he prays upon those who struggle mentally and he attacks anyone who will listen so that broken promises are the norm.
So, what does God expect from us regarding the needy? Some might tell you to give money to every needy person who asks, but sometimes this only furthers the problem. Some might ask you to invite them into your homes, but without the needed understanding and expertise, this could bring disaster. So, what shall we do? Let’s hear from God Himself.
1 John 3:17-18, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” This is a call to action from God. Talking about the problem and lamenting over someone else’s misfortune is easy, but God calls us to greater things than these.
God asks us all to be willing participants in overcoming the problems of need. That means we do more than talk. That means we attack the problem head-on by giving of ourselves. That means we give of our good fortune in wise ways, it means we get beyond our comfort zones at times to be Christ in the world.
Most of us have no real idea of what it means to truly be in need and the only way we can properly learn is to venture out amongst those who find themselves lacking in life’s basic necessities. Being mouthpieces for change is great and its very needed, but one cannot speak unless they take the time to understand.
God shows His love through His children and we have been equipped with the power to overcome need for those who are struggling. Jesus told His listeners in Luke 12:33-34, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Here Jesus is asking all of us to live for our next life with Him in heaven where treasures will never cease for any of the faithful. Your possessions here are temporary but in heaven they are eternal. We are to have an attitude of anticipation not of self-glorification.
Yes, many of those who find themselves in the needy category have become that way through their own doing. Addiction is rampant among the homeless, mental illness (not of their own doing in most cases) is common place and bad decisions have played their part. But our calling is not to judge one needy person over another, it is to do as Christ would do.
Judas the betrayer still ate the last supper with the faithful, the woman at the well was made a recipient of God’s grace despite her past, the woman about to be stoned for adultery was saved and told to sin no more. We are all sinners in need of redemption and through faith in Christ we receive it. We are among the needy and God has answered our prayer for a Savior.
Now it is our turn to extend that same love to our neighbors in need. Give what you can, serve in ways that benefit from your gifts and be relentless in bringing Christ to those who suffer. Together we can do mighty things in God’s name. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for all the many gifts you have given us and help us to share our overabundance with others. Lead us to opportunities to show your love and stop the devil’s whispers to think only of ourselves. Amen.