Remember the Poor

If we expect a different outcome, we must live differently.

Any aspect of our lives that we want to change requires diligent thinking, analysis & discipline.  If we want to change our diet, our exercise, our budgeting, our temper, our marriage…any of these areas require focused thinking and determined action.  We do not naturally depart from the way we’ve always lived and thought.

If we, the body of Christ, are serious about caring for the orphan and the widow and evangelizing the unreached, we are going to have to live differently–with these goals as our focus and objective.

May our love be proved genuine and may our readiness in desiring it be matched by our completing the task. (2 Corinthians 8:11)

Most of us are touched and saddened by the faces of those who are orphaned, hungry, or without Christ.  We want to respond with Christ’s love and compassion, but where do we find the money to do so?

Statistics tell us that 6% of the world’s population lives in the U.S., yet we consume more than 60% of the world’s resources.  Given those statistics, there must be a way for us to live more simply and share with those in need.

The Bible has much to say about money, in fact more on this one topic than any other.  The only resolve to the current crisis of global poverty–both spiritual and physical–will be found in biblical, kingdom-centered living.  Here’s some of what the Bible has to say.

  • Sell your possessions

Luke 12:33  Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out…

  • Eliminate all debt

Proverbs 22:7b The borrower is the slave of the lender.

  • Give excellently to those in need, so that there is equality

2 Corinthians 8:14-15  Your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.  As it is written, “whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

When Paul urges the Corinthians to “excel in this act of grace” (giving) and to prove that their love is genuine, he cites God’s Word regarding God’s provision of manna to the Israelites.  The Israelites were not to keep for themselves anything beyond what was needed for today.  They were to trust God for provision for tomorrow.  What a  striking example Paul uses.

George Muller writes the following in his narrative:

It may be said surely these passages (Matthew 5:39-44, Luke 12:33, Romans 13:8) cannot be taken literally, for how then would the people of God be able to pass through the world…whoever is WILLING to ACT OUT these commandments of the Lord LITERALLY, will, I believe, be led with me to see that, to take them LITERALLY, is the will of God.

Those who do so take them will doubtless often be brought into difficulties, hard to the flesh to bear, but these will have a tendency to make them constantly feel that they are strangers and pilgrims here, that this world is not their home, and thus to throw them more upon God, who will assuredly help us through any difficulty into which we may be brought by seeking to act in obedience to His word.

Regarding debt, he wrote:

I would just observe that we never contract debts, which we believe to be unscriptural (according to Romans 13:8)…but all we buy we pay for in ready money.  Thus we always know how much we have and how much we have a right to give away. May I entreat the reading believer, prayerfully to consider this matter; for I am well aware that many trials come upon the children of God, on account of not acting according to Romans 13:8.

Debt has done far more harm than good in the body of Christ.  It has crippled us spiritually, and the ramifications for those in need are even worse.  Nowhere does Scripture encourage debt.  Rather it warns us that when we take it on, we become as a slave.  Lending generously–without expecting repayment, possibly without interest, and always for the good of the person borrowing– is encouraged.

If these ideas sound radical, it’s because they are radically different from the way the western Church has lived for about the past century.  But Jesus wasn’t known for going the way of the crowds.  He called for radically different living.

One of the most challenging questions we continue to ask ourselves is this:  If my sister, my mother, my child were living in abject poverty, starving for food, dying from lack of clean water, which of the above would I NOT do in order to provide her with exactly what she needed.  When answering that question, the points above don’t look so radical, do they?

For further study, you may wish to watch:

David Platt’s RADICAL series

Francis Chan’s Lukewarm & Loving It

Francis Chan’s Short (1-3 min) videos

You may also wish to read:

Randy Alcorn’s book Money, Possessions & Eternity

Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love