There’s a war inside of me. Recently I’ve been confronted with the issue of poverty and homelessness. Men and women stand at every intersection in Tampa with their backpack, sign, and reflective vest. Some even have coolers of bottled water to sell in hopes of making a small profit to support their family. This is where the war inside me begins.
I can’t ignore their pleas. I can choose not to respond, but I cannot ignore. I am already aware. My heart breaks. I can choose to respond. I can help. But I hesitate. On one hand, I do not want to enable unhealthy behaviors and feed an addiction. On the other hand, who am I to judge which individual is worthy of my assistance and which is not? Am I not just as helpless and needy in the sight of my God?
After a little digging and research, I’m humbled and challenged. God clearly has a heart for the poor. And I have a responsibility as a disciple of Christ to meet the needs of others. Not to judge. Here’s a peak at some of what I found.
“If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
–Deuteronomy 15:7, 11
“The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy. He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”
–Proverbs 14:20-21, 31
“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”
“‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know Me?’ declares the Lord.” –Jeremiah 22:16
“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”
As a disciple of Christ, I am commanded to help and be openhanded in meeting the needs of others. And after further digging, it’s clear to me that God blesses those who generously and genuinely care for the poor as an act of service to Him. Now my challenge is to find practical ways to do that (without judging) and not be careless with my resources in the process. I’ll welcome any ideas and input y’all have.
So the world may know,
live unashamedly :: laugh uncontrollably :: love unconditionally.