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September 15, 2019 | Doug Sauder
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“For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”—Deuteronomy 15:11 (NKJV)
If God is all loving, then why does He assure us that the poor will never cease from the land? Or as Jesus puts it in the New Testament, “For you have the poor with you always” (Matthew 26:11 NKJV). Wouldn’t God’s perfect love have provided for the poor so they wouldn’t be with us always, but rather they wouldn’t be poor anymore?
Let’s start with this thought: God does not value the poor less because they are poor. If there were something inherently wrong with being poor, God would not have come to the world as a poor man. In fact, Jesus teaches with striking clarity that we should much more desire to be the poor, homeless Lazarus who knows Jesus rather than the man with incredible wealth who doesn’t (see Luke 6:19–31). So the truth is that Jesus is our wealth.
Now let’s consider this: God has called us to be perfect, as He is perfect (see Matthew 5:48). Although we need Jesus’ perfection to take the place of our imperfection, God has set in motion a wonderful process whereby He is perfecting us in order to be conformed into the perfect image of His Son. This process is known as sanctification.
With this in mind, how does God go about sanctifying our love for others? It is not by miraculously making us love others without any effort on our part, because there is no holiness in that. But it is by giving us opportunities to love others in the daily routines of our lives. This is where the poor come in. For many people, their ability to love others extends only as far as their families and their friendships—those who are a lot like themselves. But Jesus taught, “If you love those that love you, what reward have you?” (Matthew 5:46 NKJV). So our love must extend its borders.
The poor are a God-given opportunity to love perfectly, and to be further conformed into the image of God. We are called to love the poor through our giving the same way God did, who in our spiritual poverty gave us Jesus, our true wealth. Let’s look unto Jesus as our example of whom it was said, “That though He was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV).
Jesus loved the poor so much that He became one of them. What will you do for the poor?
Dig: Pray earnestly and ask God to reveal to you your true heart towards helping the poor and ask Him to give you a heart for the poor like Jesus has.
Discover: Do some research on the Bible’s teaching about alms giving and see how you can participate in God’s plans for it.
Display: Display that smile on your face that comes from experiencing the joy of the Lord when you become the “cheerful giver” described in 2 Corinthians 9:7.