October 1, 2009

Serve The Poor

Written by Boyd Bailey

Serve The Poor… “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11

What does it mean to be poor? The basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are a struggle for the poor. Life is on hold because they are not sure from where their next meal is coming, or if what little they do eat has nutritional value. Their clothing is threadbare and insufficient to fight the elements of a blistering cold winter, or they have no home and are transient from one shelter to another. Indeed, God commands us to care for the poor.

However, those with abundance are tempted to judge the poor. They want to remind them that their position of disadvantage is because of poor choices. This may or may not be true, but they do not need sermonizing. What they need is their needs met. When we give bread to a growling stomach, we earn the right to offer the “Bread of Life” to their lean soul. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life” (John 6:47-48). Food is a friendly facilitator of conversations about Christ.

So what are some ways we can be openhanded toward the poor? Intentionality is a key to effectively reaching out to the poor. Be intentional to schedule time with them. Perhaps you engage in an after school reading program or sports activities. Your time is golden, so give some of your gold away by blocking off time to hang out with poor children.

When you wipe the nose of a child who lacks proper medicine, or, more importantly, offer the love and security of a father, you become their friend and mentor. When you talk with a single mom who is weepy because of the physical and mental abuse she has received, you become angry and you are compelled to get her out by educating her with other options.

When a teenager is unable to have a well balanced diet because his parents have spent the family’s food money to buy drugs, your heart bleeds for them. These are the poor among you. We are insulated in our bubble of prosperity while the poor struggle in despair. Jesus walked among the poor, do I? What can I do to serve just one who is poor?  “Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:10).

Related Readings: Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 25:25; Matthew 19:21; Luke 19:8

Transformational Living
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