Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Generous Soul (Proverbs 11:24–26; 19:17; 22:9)

"He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD …" (Prov. 19:17a).

God does not think highly of those who have a covetous and selfish spirit, saying of them, “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy” (14:31). “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses” (28:27).

God has declared that the “poor will never cease out of the land” (Deut. 15:11). Therefore, God’s people have the universal obligation to show them pity (Prov. 19:17). Too often the church has all but abandoned the poor. As a result the poor have turned to the government for relief. The drain on society has been enormous, but much of the fault lies at the door of the church. Whether it results from a cold negligence or a misconception of the plight of the needy, it nonetheless leaves the soul of society blighted. As God’s people minister to the physical needs of the poor, they can also minister to their souls, instructing them in the freedom of Christ and the need to be responsible, and thus build a stronger society.

When Christians refuse to be generous to the poor, they bring dishonor to the name of Christ. Christ’s generosity extends to all of us even though we cannot give back. Is this not the essence of the Gospel? We are to go and do likewise. We will lose nothing in giving to the poor, but we will gain much, because when we give to the poor, we “lend to the Lord.” The Lord Himself is the Surety for the poor. “He takes the debt upon Himself, and gives us the bonds of His word in promise of payment,” Bridges wrote. “Though He has a right to all, and is beholden to none, He becomes a debtor to His own.… The poor man’s hand is the treasury of Christ.” You may not see a return in this life, but you will surely see it in the next when the resurrection day will bring all to light.

Keep a loose handle on your possessions. Cause your blessings to multiply. Give back to the Lord by way of the poor, that you might honor God before a selfish and profligate world. You have no claim to your possessions; you have no right to use them according to your selfish interests—all you have belongs to the Lord. Give in faith, give in abundance, give in mercy, give in love, and you will be richly blessed.

Do something for the poor either through your church or a ministry to the poor, or on your own initiative. Take some clothes to a shelter or some food to a soup kitchen. Give money to a ministry. Offer your time to serve others who need help. If you have children, get them involved. Commit long term to this.