Happy are those who consider the poor; the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble. – Psalm 41:1
Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
At one time in our lives, Diane and I were nearly destitute. We counted our money, and we had a total of $4.17 to our name. We counted every penny. We had food in the refrigerator and cabinets, and anticipated a paycheck at the end of the week. But we had no other funds. By today’s standards we were poor. Thankfully, however, our poverty was soon alleviated, and we were blessed by some people who were very generous toward us. Someone considered us and helped us bear the burdens of studying to be a pastor and dealing with a very menial job that Diane had to support me.
We’ve tried never to forget those days. It set the scene for our approach to giving and caring for people in need. We feel guilty today if we don’t respond to people in dire straits. We’ve received so much. We truly want to be generous.
Our motive for doing this is not to insure that we will be delivered in the day of trouble. It is in part be to fulfill the law of Christ. But most of all, it is out of deeply thankful hearts that we are moved to be generous when we are able. That and an awareness of the incredible blessings we have received from God in the financial realm alone – not to mention the blessings of family, friends, opportunities to travel, and open doors of life and ministry that God sets before us so often.
When I think of poor people, I think of people far worse off than we ever were. People in refuge camps like Aleppo, or the down-and-out people who are truly destitute. Then comes the inevitable question: How about the panhandler on the street corner? I see him there day after day, week after week, for years! He’s going home at night having made a nice haul. He’s on the dole. I consider such people more lost and poor than they know. Either they have sold their soul for the money they are collecting, or they are in such desperate need that they will subject themselves to ridicule, abuse, and inhuman treatment to get their needs met.
If I help out someone who doesn’t really need the help; shame on him. If I fail to help someone who really does need help, shame on me. The answer for me, therefore, is simple: Consider the poor. Help them as I am able, to bear the burdens which they carry.