The poor and needy are all around us. We don’t have to look far to find a family, region or entire country poverty stricken for whatever reason, or just plain hopeless with all the terror and chaos around the world today. Jesus said that we will always have plenty of opportunities to meet the needs of others. (John 12:8)
There are neglected and undernourished people everywhere and children without a home or a hope. There are needy women who are abandoned by their husbands. We live in a world where ungodly governments make their own people suffer while they live in luxury. There are regions of people who suffer cruelty beyond their control. It is overwhelming for sure, but God expects His people to do something, even if it’s little. The Lord has instructed every one of us to spread His Gospel and then follow it up with love in action.
As a mother, the poor and needy are right at your feet each morning. Your children are constantly yanking on you and requiring your full attention because of the inner poverty and spiritual need they have (which we all had or maybe still have as adults). A warm home, a closet full of clothes and toys, along with three well-balanced meals a day won’t satisfy what your child needs emotionally and spiritually.
Poor: Lacking proper nourishment; lacking material possessions; lacking the means to support oneself; lacking productivity, lacking fruitfulness; barren, sterile; lacking comfort and satisfaction; lacking good and moral qualities; lacking excellence; worthy of pity.
The Virtuous Woman sees that her own children’s emotional, spiritual and physical needs are met first before she opens her arms to others. Wisdom is proved right by her children. You can’t serve or be a benefit anywhere else unless you have first and fully benefitted the ones God gave you at home.
God gives any barren wife children otherwise; she simply needs to open her eyes elsewhere. A childless couple can have as many as they like; it’s just a matter of love and faith in God.
Note: Go to God, not to doctors to attain a right perspective as to why the two of you are not producing children out of your own bodies.
Children raised with ‘material things’ replacing ‘mother’s time’ and ‘father’s time’ are children who will more than likely grow up to be smug and cold toward the poor and needy. Smug: narrow contentment about one’s own accomplishments, beliefs, morality; self-satisfied; complacent.
Jesus stated that in the last days the hearts of people (even His own people) would grow cold because of the “rapid” increase of wickedness. (Matthew 24:12) They will get angry over what has been denied them by their governments, fear that they won’t have enough, and begin hoarding for themselves instead of trusting God and reaching out to help others. In fear people will stand watching someone being attacked instead of taking the risk of helping. We see many countries where governments are corrupt and unjust, oppressing people instead of helping people. Acts of kindness will be rarely seen except by true servants of the Lord that will obey God’s instructions.
One way God keeps our heart from growing cold is to put us into needy situations ourselves; maybe even into poverty and homelessness. I know a Christian man who saw a homeless ministry as he himself was homeless. Sometimes God will burden us for a place in the world where the people are in great need; to put us among them for a time to feel what they feel and respond as God’s open arms. God loves people through His people. God can end suffering through those who walk with Jesus.
We might need to suffer ourselves so that we can truly understand, and not just pity people who live a life of suffering; what they go through each and every day. God always has a good purpose when He assigns us a time to suffer. (1 Peter 3:13-17)
Jesus told us that unless we suffer for the Gospel’s sake we will not share in His inheritance later. (Romans 8:17, Revelation 2:10) Why does our Father treat us this way? Why is “suffering” part of how He qualifies us for His Kingdom? Shouldn’t it be how well we did our work on earth, how committed we were to the Church, how cooperative we were serving our leaders, how well we managed and prayed for our families, how faithful we were in tithing and teaching others the truth?
Suffering works as a high heat that purges the dross from gold. Suffering reveals deep things in us that we didn’t know existed. Our hearts are deceitfully wicked and we don’t know just how deep that wickedness is until the Lord exposes it and sometimes He does this through suffering. And, if we have been humbled in the process, He is quick to comfort those who suffer.
God uses suffering to test our commitment to His Kingdom; how far we will go for the Lord. God’s uses suffering to draw people to Himself so He can pour out His love on them. His love poured out on us leads us to repent and turn our life over to Him; to offer ourselves to Him in gratitude.
When the people of God, who have been blessed by Him, are closed armed, tight fisted and silent about our world’s inhumanities – the world becomes filled with more and more inhumane suffering. It has only gotten worse in the world, not better, and that is not the fault of God. Jesus said that He came to destroy the works of the devil. He showed His men how to demolish Satan’s personal and national strongholds and agendas, and those men passed it on to the next generation, and so on and so forth. So what happened?
Those who spent time around Jesus, being fed, taught and touched by Him – felt rich, important and full of hope, even with all that was viciously against them. They went much further than we do in order to take care of each other, and because of that brotherly love – great numbers were added daily to the Kingdom of God. Their persecution forced them to spread out and cover more areas of darkness with God’s love, truth and righteousness.
Human sympathy is not the same as godly (God’s) compassion. Human sympathy lacks godly discernment and the wisdom that comes from God to know when to help and when not to help, and what help should be.
Godly compassion glorifies God. Human sympathy glorifies man. We can feel sorry for someone without extending a hand to help and still have God’s peace about it. We can be moved to help the way they want to be helped, but not in the way they really need us to help. When God’s compassion is compelling us to action that person or group of people will have exactly what they need when they need it, and they will give GOD the glory for it.
God sees and understands the heart of every individual, we don’t have that power. God sees a person’s whole state and the legitimate need in each one. When we act out of mere human sympathy we can miss out on the rewards of our faith that come from knowing how to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow through in obedience. But, a reward isn’t the motive we should have; love is.
The day comes when our parents or grandparents become the poor and needy around us. We hear a lot about nursing homes for the elderly where the elderly are treated poorly; where they are oppressed instead of honored. Turning our parent, parents or grandparents over to hired-help should only be done with God’s permission and His peace in our heart because He will hold us responsible.
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6
I have seen a great push from God as He has been working in families to unite families so that they can start living together and helping each other along, because the days are rapidly increasing with evil.
We will all face hardships of various kinds; some we have caused ourselves by not trusting the Lord, or hardships that others generate on their own and that affect us. Our sin and rebellion towards God affects others, not just ourselves. The closer we get to the return of the Lord the more Christians will need to come together and return to the basic principles of love and sacrifice that the first church so beautifully embodied. The book of “Acts” is called just that because of their righteous acts (also known as the bride’s apparel – Revelation 19:8).
The Lord calls us a fool if we are selfish with what we have; if we are storing up for ourselves on earth and not storing up with God’s purpose in mind. (Luke 12:20-21) We are wise to be “rich toward God.” The early church was very rich toward God for they did not hold on to anything as if it was theirs alone.
Everything we have comes from God. The first church gave according to the needs among them without judging one another or expecting anything in return. They laid their gifts at the feet of the apostles (not at the feet of the teachers/pastors/prophets). The apostles see the needs ‘worldwide’ as well as locally. The first church sold their possessions to help one another. When God is pleased – God is generous.
Hospitality (open homes) is a rare thing to see today, just as rare to see as a man and wife who never separated or divorced; never were unfaithful to each other and whose children obey and honor them. What a rare sight today. We’d be wise to start seeing and making our homes as the “gathering place” for fellowship with believers – instead of a public church building.
The first church opened their hearts and homes to each other. The family of God grew quickly because of their open arms.