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God loves the poor – so should we

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“Share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him.” Isaiah 58:7 God not only loves the underdog, he loves an entire class of underdogs: the poor.  Over and over again in Scripture he asks us to take up their case.  &nb…
By Seth Barnes
“Share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him.” Isaiah 58:7

swazi women 1God not only loves the underdog, he loves an entire class of underdogs: the poor.  Over and over again in Scripture he asks us to take up their case. 
 
He tells us in the book of James that true religion is to help the widow and the orphan.  In that same book, he talks down the rich telling them to “weep and wail for the misery that is coming” to them.  He begins the beatitudes by calling those who are poor in spirit blessed. 

Shalom, relational peace, is a community-wide issue.  In Is. 58, God addresses the sins of omission – the opportunities to give that we ignored.  All of us who have food or shelter have something to offer the hungry or homeless.  Those with clothes need to share them.  And, perhaps most importantly, we can posture ourselves with hearts of warmth and openness. 
 
Our reaction to the needy may be to want to avoid them, but we are told to not turn away; we are connected to these people.  We share our humanity; we both have blood flowing in our veins.  To turn away from them is to deny our best selves.  To fail to respect that is to break the shalom that God has instituted for our benefit.

I’m tired tonight.  But it occurs to me, this is how the poor feel all the time.  They just never seem to catch a break.  A friend was telling me about his visit to an AIDS hospital in South Africa.  A doctor in charge there estimates that 95% of those they test have got the HIV virus.
 
Babies die sad, isolated deaths there.  The nurses themselves die at an alarming rate.  A nation is being orphaned. And God’s heart beats for them.  He allowed me to feel what He felt a couple of days ago and I thought it would crush me.  The Lord showed me that I don’t have a right to “my own stuff” – I must open up my home to orphans.

It’s a messy ministry, but it’s the one that Jesus wants us to embrace.  Note that we are not called to assess the motives of the homeless, hungry, and naked.  The fact is, they very likely may be trying to scam us; but no matter.  They are broken just like we are.  When we lay eyes on them, we are told to respond.  We are told elsewhere that it’s God’s job to judge the heart.  It’s our job to make the compassion that He feels tangible – to put legs on it.

How many times do we drive by the homeless man with the sign proclaiming his need?  Do we think to ourselves, “He’ll just use money on booze”?  If so, we’re missing the point!  We are that man’s divine safety net!  We are God’s plan for his care. How are you caring for them this week?

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Program notewe have 14 people signed up for our three listening prayer groups with room for a few more of you. Some of you need to do this. If you want to grow in your ability to hear God’s voice, this is for you. Read yesterday’s post or just email me.

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