In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s desire for His children to show compassion to the poor and needy. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us (Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7).
I need to care for the poor. There is no other conclusion I can come to. This isn’t something I can delegate.
- Jesus said that those who show mercy to the poor, the sick, and the needy are in effect ministering to Him personally (Matthew 25:35–40) and will be rewarded accordingly. Matthew 25 is a very haunting chapter. The language that Jesus uses is personal. “For I was hungry, and YOU gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and YOU gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and YOU invited Me in; naked, and YOU clothed Me; I was sick, and YOU visited Me; I was in prison, and YOU came to Me.” And then … “I say to YOU, to the extent that YOU did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, YOU did it to Me.”
- And the haunting part if I don’t … “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”
- I take note that Jesus is challenging me, and perhaps, you and all of us. He didn’t say “the church” should do this. He didn’t say “the government” should do this. It seems way too easy to advocate for someone else to do what I am not willing to do myself. I think Jesus will judge me personally. Maybe I am off base but I think that is a fair interpretation.
The treatment of the poor — They are not to be neglected God’s Word gives us insight into His heart for the poor and instruction in how we are to care for them. If we truly have faith in Jesus, we must also share His concern for the poor. Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13:34–35). And what better way to demonstrate the love and kindness and compassion of Jesus the Messiah than by reaching out to the “least of these” among us?
- Deuteronomy 15:7–8 — “If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the Master your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.”
- Proverbs 17:5 — He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker; He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.
- Romans 12:13 — Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
- Galatians 6:10 — So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
- James 2:15–16 — If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
- 1 John 3:17 — But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?