Hand out to the poor

"God helps those who help themselves" No that's not scripture but it is a philosophy many Christians use to justify their disdain for hand outs. They feel like if someone could have or should have provided for themselves then it is not the Christian's responsibility to give that person anything. They don't want the money that they worked so hard for to go to help people caught in a system, people who live off hand outs, who exploit the generosity of others, steal, milk the system, etc.

Here's a thought. You walk into the Mall, You have your hard earned money, you buy a $200 purse that a friend said was the latest thing, $100 jeans you saw a Rock star wearing and $75 shoes you saw on a billboard. You wear them all to church, everyone comments on how fabulous they all are.

You have been taken advantage of, sold goods you didn't need, maybe didn't even want till you got sucked into the advertisements, and you gave your money, your time, your energy to a scam ran on you. The scam that things equal blessing.

Or instead of going to the mall you go purchase bus tickets and hand them out at bus stops on Airline Hwy or you take the money and fund a grocery giveaway at the Dream Center. or maybe you help 22yr old Laquisha at the GED program. You give a bag of Hygiene items to a crack head ex-con who has HIV, you spend time with Tonya at the Hip Hop dance class, you give a ride to Gene who's high and last month threatened to fight someone at the BRDC Sunday Service. You gave your time and money to people who could have and should have provided for them selves. Heck, they may even walk out and sell that bag of groceries for crack. NONE of these people would have passed a "do they deserve my help" kinda test. But which one of these scenarios, according to scripture is the one that will bring blessing to your life?

Ah, but with things we "see" a return,we look good, stylish, people look at us..with investing in lives, we may never in this life time see fruit..in THEIR lives, but GOD promises we WILL see the fruit in our lives. And He tells us to do it regardless of the outcome.

Nowhere, I mean nowhere, does it say in scripture to only help the ones who have done all they can to help themselves. Nowhere. Sure, there are scriptures that tell us, if we don't work we don't eat but it does not say "look at that person, judge if you think they have lived up to this Scripture and then give according to your assessment"

Actually if you do a search of "the poor" in the bible, you will be shocked at the hundreds of times the bible just tells us flat out to help them. period. No questions asked. AND further more it says many times how blessed we will be because of it.

Jesus didn't asked "how did you become homeless? Why are you begging by this gate? Why didn't you bring your lunch?" and no where in scripture are we instructed to run a litmus test before helping a poor person. We are instructed to help them:

Luke 12:33
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

Give them clothes, food, shelter, invite them all to our fancy party:

Luke 14:13

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind..

But ok, you don't want to give your money to people who should or could do better. Fine, give your time. You don't think you should help the crack head, then mentor his kids. Volunteer at a job training or GED program. Open a lunch counter to employ the homeless to grow vegetables and serve the food. You believe in the "give a man a fish feed him for a day but teach him to fish feed him for a life time"? then get to teaching them how to fish.

The truth is most Christians put people who help the poor sacrificially on pedestal, they love to praise Mother Theresa talk about how great it is that Matthew Barnett has a Dream Center in LA. Admire Carolyn Tweitemyer for adopting AIDS orphans but they have no desire to do any of that stuff themselves so they sit around thinking of reasons not to. The few are doing what all Christians should all be doing. We all have a part to play, we cant blame government, politicians, culture or the devil for the evils of the world when the majority of Christians sit by doing nothing or very little to show Jesus.

God promises we will be blessed when we extend our hand to the poor, why don't we believe it? Why do we let time, money, politics, keep us from treating the poor the way Jesus instructed?

Proverbs 28:27
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

Proverbs 22:9
A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

Comments

agardana said…
Carole,

I love your passion and the obvious calling God has placed on your life to be available to those who have often been forgotten. You are right that the Bible teaches us that we all are called to the poor, the orphans, the widowed, etc. I believe where we run into conflict is that many think it is government's responibility when the fact of the matter is it is the church's. Many government programs were created during a time when the CHURCH was not caring for others. Just as God does not force us into relationship with Him, he never forces us to give, respond, participate, or sacrifice. It is our choice and God gives us pretty clear direction on what He requires of us. It is not the responsibility of the government to legislate our giving. There is a place for social programs but it is not ever going to be God's will for legal policy to be the whole answer. He wants the credit and for His people to experience His love by loving the unlovable. People need to be stirred to action and the church needs to take back what is scripturally our responisibility.
Becky Grant said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jean Gullicks said…
Carole, I was looking at your blog tonight because I remember your passion and tears upon returning from Ethiopia. I am the same..... I have done medical missions in Guatemala, Amazon River and never seen poverty like ET has. I can't think straight since returning. I pray to know how to help. I met people and were invited into their homes. They are happy, smiling, some were starving and others were working and making less than $30/month! How do I help those who are ever on my mind? By the way, Selam is amazing and awesome.
Leesavee said…
Carole, I haven't been over to Ethiopia yet (still waiting for our court date for my A and M) but I am already overwhelmed with what I know I will experience. Thank you for your passion, and for reminding all of us that we have an obligation to help.

Blessings to you -- and Jean, if you happen to read this, THANK YOU once again for the pictures you took of my kids in Mekele. I treasure them. You and Selam are in my prayers.

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