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Wednesday-Remember the Poor

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

Galatians 2:10

The US Census Bureau says that there are an estimated 37 million poor people in the US. That’s 11.4 percent of the total population[1]. Over 11 million of them are children.

I don’t know or care what your politics are. Whether you’re left or right. Conservative or liberal. Blue or Red. These are more than numbers on spreadsheet, or printed on a piece of paper. They represent men and women, boys and girls, of all ages, of all races. And God has something to say to us about them.

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Deuteronomy 15:11

This isn’t God just stating the obvious. God doesn’t read notes on his teleprompter. He doesn’t recite numbers at a press conference. No, he says that we have a responsibility. A part to play. We aren’t to just ignore them or pass them off to some governmental agency.

It’s not a nice idea to help the poor. It’s not even God’s suggestion. No. It’s his royal command to be generous with them. It’s his Royal Law to love our neighbor as ourselves[2].

We personally are to be openhanded, not tightfisted. God has been good and gracious to us, so we are to respond by being kind and gracious to the poor. We aren’t to be greedy like Ebenezer Scrooge[3] from A Christmas Carol or Mr. Potter[4] from It’s a Wonderful Life.

Paul was already helping the poor. He was instructed and encouraged keep on remembering them. But remembering is more than just thinking about them. It’s personally getting up and doing something about their needs. Remembering isn’t true remembering if it doesn’t lead to action.

True remembering means getting yourself organized, putting something aside for the poor as part of your daily life. It’s not some annual campaign where you reach into your pocket and pull out a couple of bucks. God’s kind of remembering the poor is done on a daily basis.

Paul was already remembering and helping the poor. And he was willing to do even more for them. He was willing to work hard at it. To give the orders, “Full speed ahead” when it came to helping the poor. He was fully committed to it. When it came to helping the poor, he was dedicated to doing all that God had given him to do.

It seems like we only think about the poor at certain times of the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas always bring calls for money to feed the poor. But the poor are not invisible the rest of the year. We meet them the year round. How do we treat them when we meet?

but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

James 2:3b,4

This is not the time or place to try and figure out the governmental or political solutions to help the poor. But this certainly is the time and place for us to actively help the poor right where we are. There are so many things that we can do, right where we are.

And not being able to drop a bomb of money into a charity doesn’t get you off the hook. It really doesn’t matter how much, or little, you have. You always, always, always can give something. Your something might not be as much as others, but that’s not your responsibility.

Your job is to start giving right now. Not later, now. We are commanded to give because God is a giver, and he gives to us. And if you’re already giving to the poor, thank God. But could you be giving a little bit more? Is there something else you could be doing? Giving?

Giving is never to be done as a show. It’s not to be recognized around town as a good and generous person. Our giving is to be done in secret. Giving also isn’t just another way to get rid of old and useless things either.

Mary Ann was part of a women’s Bible study that took up a collection every Christmas for mothers in need. And one of the instructions was to go out and buy something new to give. Why? Because we got new things at Christmas, so shouldn’t these poor women?

Go and remember the poor. If these words of instruction were good enough for the Apostle Paul, they’re good enough for us.

Noodling Questions

  • When do we actively start remembering the poor?

  • What encourages/discourages you to remember the poor?

  • How can we move from just remembering to helping the poor?

[1] [2] James 2:8 [3] [4]

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