Do you ever think that you have more than enough? How about, just enough? How about NEVER ENOUGH? Well, today I had the awesome privilege of teaching my Sunday School class. This was the second time I was asked to do this and I enjoyed it so much! As all the ladies were milling around before class started someone was talking about the lesson topic. I told them it was one that I had no problems preparing for because I had such good examples of sharing what you have with others. Let me explain.
The topic of the lesson today was “Ready To Help The Poor”. The idea here was to share with the poor when and how you can. Most of us are not “rich” in the sense that we have tons of money just sitting around and we don’t know what to do with it. Most of us are probably like the rest … just trying to get by in this life the best way we can and don’t really think of ourselves being rich or poor. However, to the homeless and most of the really “poor” people we are R-I-C-H! As a rule, most of us have so much more than the homeless right in our own communities. Now that is not to say that there are a few of us that simply have trouble making ends meet and cannot pay our bills at the present moment. However, we actually may see a light at the end of that tunnel… albeit a pin head speck of light, it is still some light. Then there are others of us that absolutely see no light and don’t really know where their next meal is coming from but they do live in a house but no heat or air conditioning and maybe no food. This situation seems so dire and so overwhelming that those of us that do have… don’t know how to help.
One of the ladies in my Sunday School class shared with us this morning what she did one day last week (I believe it was on a Saturday but I am not certain). Anyway, she told about how a group of folks got together in a park down close to the homeless shelters and had various tables with different kinds of food and various things. Her group made chili and rice and crackers. Others had hotdogs and chips. They fed about 400 homeless folks that day! 400 HOMELESS people! WOW! That is extraordinary, I think. And, unfortunately, that is probably just a sampling of the total homeless population here in our community.
Now I know there are many reasons that people are homeless or poor. Sometimes it is due to another’s actions such as theft, arson, divorce, company not paying the employees, layoff, high unemployment, etc. You get the idea. Sometimes a person is poor because of the thoughtless actions of another person or company or bad economy. Then there are the poor that are poor because of the poor choices they have made, such as drugs, alcoholism, dangerous lifestyle choices, etc. Also, there are folks out there that simply do not want to work and are lazy. I have known some of those in my lifetime for sure. There is a scripture that I read in class today about laziness.
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.
Well, there are some simple things that you can do. I know another person that had a great idea. It was easy and it didn’t take that much money to do. She thought about buying a few $5.00 gift cards from McDonald’s and she ordered some gospel tracts. She said she thought about putting the gift cards inside the gospel tracts and hand those out as she felt led to do so. Or you can do something like the lady in Sunday School and help organize a group that goes and feeds the homeless on certain days at a park or another location. You can check with your homeless shelters and see if there is a need for volunteers or what kinds of things you can donate to the homeless shelters. I know there is probably a need for blankets at most shelters. There are probably many other ideas out there, too. I just wanted to bring your attention to the tremendous need of our homeless people. They are not necessarily vagrants. Some of them may have been an executive just a year ago in a company that went under and they lost everything they had because of it and are lucky to eat one meal a day now.
“The heart is about belief and has everything to do with attitude. The hand is about behavior and has everything to do with action.”
God tells us in the Bible that when we are generous to the poor, He will bless us. Now God knows the heart and He knows what kind of attitude you have when you do help the poor.
The lesson was centered around the Israelites and how God – through Moses – taught them the way to treat your “brother” – meaning their fellow Israelite. However, this is a good scripture for us today, no matter what part of our world we live in.
10 Give to him, and don’t have a stingy heart when you give, and because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you do. 11 For there will never cease to be poor people in the land; that is why I am commanding you, ‘You must willingly open your hand to your afflicted and poor brother in your land.’
God is always interested in the heart and the hand when it comes to giving. God wants us to give generously out of willing hearts. When we follow His command to give cheerfully, God promises to bless us.
Paul, in the Bible, talks about how the Macedonians were so poor yet they begged him if they could please give to the ministry. In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, he talks about it in great detail. Here is a scripture from chapter 8.
2 During a severe testing by affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity. 3 I testify that, on their own, according to their ability and beyond their ability, 4 they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints.
Do we have that kind of attitude? Not many probably really think they have enough for themselves much less to share with someone else. But my belief is that everyone has something to give, even if it is your time, a smile, a kind word. Some things don’t cost a dime yet are priceless to the recipient.
My teacher’s guide had some very good statements and I would like to use them here. It speaks to a very important part of being poor. Here are the last few comments in my teacher’s guide.
“We can be overwhelmed with the extent of poverty in our world. We are constantly confronted with pictures of starving children and media personalities pleading for money to support efforts against hunger. While we cannot possibly meet every need, we can respond with generosity and the love of Christ to meet some of those needs.
This was all about material poverty… but there is another kind of poverty that is much more devastating. Spiritual poverty. Many “rich” people in our world are spiritually poor. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus said generosity marks the saved and stinginess marks the lost.” And in one of the statements that Paul made of what Jesus said…
35 In every way I’ve shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Another thing we as Christians can do as far as giving goes… if we have Jesus in our hearts, we can share Jesus. Giving another person a chance to accept Jesus by sharing what He has done for us is a wonderful gift. You don’t have to be “preachy” just be yourself and explain what He did in your life. Give your examples… not someone else’s. This makes it more “real”. If you still need some help in sharing, here is a website that talks about what it means to be a Christ follower and it has a Simple Plan of Salvation as well. Here is the link …. Bible.org, Simple Plan of Salvation.
I cannot wrap this post up without mentioning this scripture also.
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
In as much as we help the “least of these” we help God because each one is precious to our Heavenly Father. God loves His people so much! He loves you and He loves every poor and/or homeless person in the world. He calls each of us His beloved!
“Giving is true having.” Charles Spurgeon