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 (Manna 3)
Blessed Is He Who Considers The Poor
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“Blessed is he who considers the poor!”, says the Bible, “The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble; The Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sick bed; in his illness thou healeth all his infirmities” (Ps 41:1-3). Here King David broached the question of looking after the poor including the many blessings showered upon those who care for them.

The Command Of God

Since the time of Moses, God has already commanded the Israelites to open wide their hands to the poor and the needy. In Deuteronomy it is written; “If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.... For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land” (Deut 15:7, 8, 11).

When Jesus was ministering, the same command was given to His faithful followers. The Lord said: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me” (Mt 19:21).

Honouring The Creator

The Bible cautions that those who mock and oppress the poor insult his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honours Him (Prov 17:5; 14:31). The rich and the poor are both created by God; in the words of Job: “Did not He who made me in the womb make him! And did not one fashion us in the womb!” (Job 31:15). Since the poor are created by God, those who mock and browbeat them are insulting their Maker. On the other hand, those who are kind to the needy honour Him. Therefore, those who honour their Creator should show compassion to and look after the poor. If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 Jn 3:17).

The Virtue Of The Saints

Paul said, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; walk in love …. as is proper among saints” (Eph 5:1-3). But the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 Jn 4:20). Being kind to the poor is one of the virtues of a saint. Among the many scintillating examples are Dorcas, whom the Scriptures record that she spent all her time doing good and helping the poor (Acts 9:37); and Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to whom the angel said; “God has accepted your prayers and works of charity, and has remembered you” (Acts 10:4).

When James, Cephas and John accepted Paul and Barnabas as partners, all they asked was that the both of them should keep their poor in mind which, according to Paul, was the very thing they were eager to do (Gal 2:10).

Care For The Body Of Christ

There should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honoured. all the members rejoice with it. (1 Cor 12:25-27). If we have brothers or sisters who are in difficulty, we should render our help. Otherwise we are no better than the non-believers. The Bible says; “If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8). All believers are members of God’s family. We have then to look after those of us who are poor or else we are worse than the non-believers.

Paul wrote; “For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem; they were pleased to do it, and indeed they are in debt to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings” (Rom 15:26-27). Notice Paul considered the contributions to the poor as a ‘debt’. Undoubtedly, as long as the poor are with us, we are ‘indebted’ to look after them.

How To Look After The Poor

It is futile to help the poor in word and not in deed. James once said that if a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body, it does not profit anyone (Jas 2:15-16). That was why John the Elder said, “Little children, let us not love in word or in speech but in deed and in truth” (I Jn 3:18). Take positive steps to ensure their well-being. Begin with those suggested below:

Do the necessary. The Lord God commanded the Israelites saying; “If there is among you a poor man.... you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your wine-press; as the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him” (Deut 15:7-8, 14). A practical way of actually helping the poor is to provide them with what they really need. The rich in this world should not be proud and place their hope on such an uncertain thing as riches, but on God, who generously gives us every thing for us to enjoy. However they are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share with others. In this way they will store up for themselves a treasure which will be a solid foundation for the future. And then they will be able to win the life which is true life (1 Tim 6:17-19).

Do it willingly. Giving aid to the poor is a virtue in itself and motive should be love. It is done out of a person’s own free will and never out of compulsion. In the olden days, Paul encouraged the members at the church of God at Corinth to do as each has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). Any good deed done will be void of virtue if it is carried out under compulsion. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what the man has and not according to what a man has not (2 Cor 8:12). Any donation to the poor must be voluntary.

Do it in time. “As we have the opportunity,” said Paul, “let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). What is meant by ‘opportunity’ is that we ought to help the needy while we can before it is too late. A widow at Zarephath willingly and without delay made the prophet Elijah a little cake. In the end, the jar of meal was not spent, neither did the cruse of oil fail (1 Kings 17:8-16).

Do it whole-heartedly. Though some people are willing to help the poor, they do not go all out for it. This is also wrong. The Bible asks us to be charitable. The Christians in Macedonia were noted for charity though they were not rich themselves. Paul testified saying; “We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches in Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints … Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us — see that you excel in this gracious work also” (2 Cor 8:1-4, 7). Following their example, we should similarly help the poor to the best of our ability. A pertinent promise at this juncture is; “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6).

The Advantages of Caring For The Poor

The giver. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Truly those who care for the poor will be blessed in abundance. Paul encouraged the church at Corinth by saying; “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, ‘He scatters abroad. He gives to the poor; His righteousness endures forever’. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us, will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor 9:8-11). God will bless those who give assistance to the poor. They will be blessed both physically and spiritually, now and in the future. When Dorcas died, God resurrected her through the apostle Peter. This incident comforted the disciples and many believed in the Lord subsequently. (Acts 9:26-42).

The other example is Cornelius. God sent Peter to go and preach in the house of Cornelius. He and his household were the first Gentile to receive the Holy Spirit and to be baptised in the name of Jesus (Acts 10:44-48). What a great blessing it was!

The Bible declares; “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed” (Prov 19:17); and again it says; “A liberal man will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (Prov 11:25).

The receiver. As far as caring for the poor is concerned, both the giver and the receiver will benefit for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God. Under the test of service, you will glorify God by your obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ … and by your generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God in you (2 Cor 9:12- 14). The receiver will further thank and give glory to God for the help rendered them by the givers. They will always remember and pray for those who have helped them.

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