God’s concern for the poor
God has genuine concern over the plight of the poor. He intrinsically feels their need because He is a loving God. Throughout Scripture we gain insight into His heart and passion for the poor.
“For he stands beside the poor and hungry to save them from their enemies” (Psalm 109:31, The Living Bible).
Perhaps the most important Scriptures dealing with this subject are the verses where God says that regardless of what happens He will take care of the poor. The psalmist David described it like this:
“He will take care of the helpless and poor when they cry to him; for they have no one else to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and needy, and will rescue them. He will save them from oppression and from violence, for their lives are precious to him” (Psalm 72:12-14).
Scripture not only describes God’s concern for the poor, it also clearly underlines our responsibility — as His children and representatives to the lost — to reflect His concern through our attitudes and actions. In other words, meeting the needs of the poor is the responsibility of every Christian.
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31, NIV).
Our attitudes and actions must reflect the true spirit of Christianity. God laid out this principle in the Old Testament for the children of Israel during the days of the Law.
“There will always be some among you who are poor; that is why this commandment is necessary. You must lend to them liberally” (Deuteronomy 15:11, TLB).
It is difficult for us in the United States to comprehend how extensive poverty is in many regions of the world. Even the most poverty-stricken places in the United States do not compare to the plight of people who consistently do not have even their basic needs of food and water met and who face the perilous threat of diseases that plague them such as HIV/AIDS, typhoid and malaria.
From the time I first went to El Salvador as a missionary at age 23, I was greatly affected by the tremendous poverty that prevailed in that nation. I saw mothers and fathers lament over the fact they had nothing to feed their children that day. I often felt terribly frustrated I didn’t have the means to help all of them. At first my reaction was, since the poverty was so overwhelming, I could do nothing about it.
But one of the principles God spoke into my life is from the prophecy in Zechariah 4:10: “Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin.”
For me, it was a matter of getting started.
We dare not rely on the government, the church or anyone else to respond to the needs of the poor. While each of those has its responsibility, we must respond as individual Christians to their needs.
And, of course, our overall purpose when responding to the needs of the poor is to take the message of the gospel to those we come in contact with and to share the love of Jesus in everything we do.
Around the world, our missionaries and national church leaders are reflecting God’s concern for the poor through their actions and sharing the message of the good news of Jesus Christ. As you read this World Missions Edition of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel, which includes a recent update on the Africa drought, think about ways God wants you to get started in demonstrating His concern for the poor whether across the sea or in your own community.
“It is as the Scriptures say: ‘The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever’” (2 Corinthians 9:9).
L. John Bueno
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