“Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.” Psalms 41:1-3 NLT
God is benevolent (kind, tender hearted, good-natured, compassionate, sympathetic, philanthropic). God is the source of philanthropy. Philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others. There are many wealthy people who establish foundations and give large amounts of money to good causes. However, we are all supposed to be charitable. Charitable giving is a necessary part of our existence. Charity starts in the heart of God. He is the One who is the Great Giver of all time. In Him we learn the nature of giving. John 3:16 is the greatest portrait of giving in the history of creation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 KJV God cares so much about us that He bankrupted heaven to save us! We who were poor, because of the poverty of sin, are now made rich through the Son of God, Jesus Christ!!! “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NLT God is innately (naturally) benevolent! The only reason there is charity in this sinful world is the fact that God originally made us in his image. There is an inherent desire in humanity to be charitable. Sin is what corrupted us and made us selfish and greedy. God wants us to care for our fellow man. We are told, by Jesus, that the second, yet equal to the first, command is to love our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:37-40 and Mark 12:29-31). Jesus was referencing Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18 when He spoke on the issue. We are expected to do the same - love God and love our fellow man. These are the two greatest commandments of all time. In fact, they sum up the entire law of Moses. Even the Ten Commandments are classified into these two categories:
1. Vertical - commands to love God (the first 4 - see Exodus 20:1-11 and Deuteronomy 5:6-15)
2. Horizontal - commands to love our fellow man (see Exodus 20:12-17 and Deuteronomy 5:16-21).
God is serious about us caring for one another. Jesus spoke of this very clearly in John 13:34 and 35. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 NLT
One last thing. Until Jesus returns, there will always be poor people in this world (see Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7; and John 12:8). We have a responsibility to consider the needy and respond to their plight. The legitimately poor are the ones God is speaking of. There are some people who are poor because they are lazy and irresponsible. “Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.” Proverbs 10:4 NLT Lazy people must not be enabled or entitled. We must not reward laziness. “Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 NLT The poor that we must help are those who are genuinely indigent (poor or destitute). God isn't talking about hand outs, He is talking about hand ups! We are commanded to assist those who truly need help. “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.” Psalms 82:3-4 NLT “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.” Proverbs 14:31 NLT God will bless and honor those who care for the poor. Are you honestly taking a look around you to see the needs of others? How can you get involved and make a difference?
Rev. Curtis Norris