Matthew 25:41-46

"Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.'” Matthew 25:41-46

A few months ago I stumbled across this blog. I read the first post, and then something happened... I. Couldn't. Stop. It was like opening a tube of Pringles. Once you pop, you just can't stop. I read for hours, and then I was led to this blog. Through these two families sharing, struggling, rejoicing, growing, serving, and asking the hard questions, the Lord has changed my heart. He started breaking my heart for the poor, for the helpless. I kept thinking "I have to be in Haiti, I need to go to Haiti, I need to be DOING something." I didn't have an immediate opportunity to go to Haiti, but I did have an opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic with Athletic International Missions. While there, besides realizing how miniscule little my faith is, God showed me that it's not just Haiti. Really, it has nothing to do with Haiti specifically. It's the poor, period. I need to help them. I'm divinely called to.

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed." Psalm 82:3

"Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31

"Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done." Proverbs 19:17

"Whoever shuts their ears to the cries of the poor will also cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:3

"Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses." Proverbs 28:27

"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern." Proverbs 29:7

"Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:9

On the character of a Godly woman: "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hand to the needy." Proverbs 31:20

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me? declares the Lord." Jeremiah 22:16

"Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven.'" Matthew 19:21

These are just a few examples of many in scripture where God commands us to love, serve, and defend the poor. 

When John the Baptist sent word asking if Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus sent word back to John saying, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them."

Wouldn't it have been a relief if Jesus had replied, "Well, I'm going around sharing the gospel, teaching people, discipling them, inviting them to church, so duh." Maybe those things were important to Jesus too, but they obviously were not the things He used to sum up his ministry or his on-earth mission statement. Instead, Jesus relayed information to John about how the gospel He was teaching was being lived out among the sick, the poor, and the outcasts. Giving sight to the blind, mobility to the lame, healing to the sick, hearing to the deaf, life to the dead, and good news to the poor are tangible things, that obviously matter to God.

While we're incredibly jacked up individuals, what our hearts desire is (while simultaneously falling short of this) is to be Christ followers whose lives imitate our Savior. If someone asked us the same question John the Baptist asked Jesus, could we say, "Yes. We're followers of Christ. His gospel has so changed us that we can't help but see that same gospel come alive and lived out among people just like us...the broken...the sick...the desperate...the helpless."
(From allthingshendrick)

Please don't misinterpret what I'm saying here. I know I have nothing of worth to offer God and my best effort to "live out" the gospel does not earn me right standing before a holy God. Jesus' death alone has done that for me. My works are null and void when it comes to salvation. So when I fail to care for the poor my standing before God is not compromised. Nor is my standing before God changed when I succeed. It is by God's sweet grace that I am accepted by God the Father. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

In her book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver says, "Like Jesus, we must be about our Father's business. The closer we draw to the heart of the Father, the more we see His heart for the world. And so we serve, we minister, and we love, knowing that when we do it to "the least of these" we have done it unto Christ. BUT, when we put our work before worship, we put the cart before the horse. The cart is important, so is the horse. But the horse must come first, or we end up pulling the cart ourselves."

I'm prayerfully considering and evaluating my intentions and convictions. I don't want to commit to missions long, or short term for that matter, for any other reason than the fact that I am close to Jesus, that I am seeing His heart, and therefore seeing His heart for the world - for the poor, for the lost, for the hurting, for the helpless. Because if my heart isn't right, if it's all feel good, look what I'm doing for the Kingdom, then a couple months in and I'm going to be reconsidering, ready to give up.

All of these thoughts have and continue to be like a giant maze inside my heart and mind. (and they may very well remind you of a giant maze on the "pages" of this blog... I apologize) I am so blessed by women, believers, families who are willing to ask the hard questions, who are willing to say the unpopular, who are willing to be counter-culture, who are willing to believe and profess that Jesus simply meant what He said.

The next steps are discerning between the poor and the lost, (SIDE NOTE: The poor and the lost are two separate groups of people. Yes, sometimes they overlap, but not always. The Word clearly calls us to the poor, and the Word clearly calls us to the lost.) finding the poor, and looking for the poor.

Heather Hendrick has incredible, God-inspired, wisdom to share in her posts asking Who Are the Poor? and Looking For the Poor.

1 comment:

  1. What an inspiring post. God has been pressing this issue on my heart lately, too.