Dear friends, as I go on in the Christian life, I am coming to appreciate more just how important it is for us to give to the poor. We need to give time, physical resources AND the gospel to the poor. Without giving time, our hearts are not involved. Without giving food and other things, our love is empty talk, and without giving the gospel and God’s Word, we neglect the true eternal needs of the very people who are most likely to be responsive to God’s call.
In Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus made it clear that our attitude towards helping the seemingly unimportant people in desperate need reveals whether we are “sheep” – destined to enjoy God forever, or “goats” – those who call Jesus Lord but are on our way to hell. It is the “goats” who shut their eyes and ears to the needs of those around us, especially the needs of poor Christians.
We cannot give to everyone who sends a request over the internet, because really we don’t know who they actually are, but if we have money and resources and time available, I believe we should visit the poor both locally and overseas, with a view to doing something for them. After we have cared for our own families we need to think about caring for the Body of Christ and then our fellow human beings who have yet to know God’s love.
There will be more and more poor people even in the western nations in the years ahead. In the United States especially, we will no doubt see more and more homeless people, hungry people, sick people and people in prison. But there are poor and needy people in all nations. Even in rich nations such as Australia where I live, there are people who are beginning to slip through the cracks.
God is against the doctrines which teach men to endlessly accumulate wealth and serve Mammon. Those claiming to be “spirit-filled” Christians have enough money and time to evangelise the world a million times over, and probably enough wealth and knowledge to solve the poverty problems of the world also. But sadly, we show by our actions that we, the professed followers of Jesus, simply do not care. “Tell someone who cares” said one Christian man to me on the Gold Coast who was busy accumulating and building his property portfolio, when I tried to share with him the possibility of reaching India for Christ for relatively small sums through television. At least he was honest with me about the fact that he did not care. Many are not.
Jesus frequently called people to part with their earthly wealth, give it to the poor and trust Him for provision. We don’t want to hear that from Jesus today, but it does not mean He is not saying it. There are grave warnings in the Scripture given to those who love money, but the false prophets on TV are not sharing these warnings with us, because they themselves are lovers of money and the things money can buy. We need to know Jesus for ourself in these perilous times, and show we love Him by what we do for “the least of these”. We can’t show love for Jesus simply by sending money to “big shots”. To give to Jesus, give to a sincere Christian who is in great need. If you are wealthy enough to go on an oversees trip for a few weeks, I encourage you to make a trip to a developing nation and find some church planters you can help – those who are also caring for the poor.
James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”