September 2, 2013
Helping The Needy
It is surprising and appalling how many people who call themselves Christians act more like the Pharisees and Sadducees than like Jesus in their attitudes and actions. It is sad when it happens at the church you attend, which you attend because it preaches God’s word. It teaches God’s word and most of the members of the church do their best to follow Jesus’ teachings, but some of them are stuck in their own old-fashioned ways that are more Pharisee-like than Christ-like. Apparently preaching God’s word does not necessarily mean that they have to do what is being preached by some people’s standards, and because they are older (senior citizens), they think it is okay to display ungodly behavior that is not in alignment with Jesus’ teachings.
It was upsetting to find out last night that one of the senior members of the church had yelled at this poor unfortunate and kind lady who needed a safe place to stay because she is living the prophecy in the Bible (about the persecution and evil things happening to followers of Christ). She came to us for help and refuge and one of the people she asked for help started yelling that it was the government’s place to help her and not the church’s place. But does it not say in the Bible that it is the church’s place to help the needy? Did not Jesus teach us in Matthew 25:34-40 that when you help someone who is hungry by feeding them, someone who is thirsty by giving them something to drink, allowing a stranger in need of shelter in your home, or providing a naked person with clothes that you were doing it as if for Jesus? The message Jesus was giving in that speech about the King was meant to teach all followers of Christ to help the needy in whatever way they need help. So how is it that someone who has been a member of the church for over 20-30 years believes it is the government’s job to help, when God tells us clearly in several places in his Word (the Bible) that it is our jobs as Christians to help those who are in need. If you are unable to be of the kind of help someone needs, isn’t it right in God’s eyes to present the person in need’s case to them and whoever can help will help them?
It was the Pharisees who kept the religious law, but in their actions and attitudes they were selfish and greedy. They refused to help the poor and felt that it was not in their place to do so. In contrast, Jesus taught that it is in our place to help the needy. This is not to say that the person who yelled at the woman in need is a greedy person, which they are not. They are not greedy, but they are mistaken to think that it is not the church who should be helping the poor and needy but the government when that is not what Jesus taught and not what God taught in the Old Testament. It was actually a law of God’s to help the needy. In Deuteronomy 15:7, it says, “but if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.” It does not say anywhere in the Bible to be selective about who you decide needs help and who doesn’t. Only God has the right to judge. What it does say is to help the needy when you come across them.
It is not just this one isolated incidence either. There have been witnesses of other people who call themselves Christians have similar reactions to someone in need. If you are going to follow Christ then you have to follow all of his teachings and not just the ones that are convenient to you. The Apostle James said in James 2:8-9, “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.” Deciding someone in need is not worthy of your help makes you guilty of breaking the law to love your neighbor as yourself. Yelling at them is even worse! This is not meant to be judgmental or criticism, just pointing out the facts and trying to encourage people to actually act more like Christ, especially if they say they follow him. You cannot just attend church regularly and say “I’m a Christian and I follow Jesus!” You have to have the attitude of Christ and act like him both inside of the church (the congregational meeting place) and outside of it, otherwise you are giving God a bad name. Do God justice by following his law to love him with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love everyone (your neighbor) as you love yourself. If you don’t love yourself then you won’t be able to love others. In order to be able to have a healthy love for yourself, you must accept God’s love and that God loves you because he created you and that he made no mistakes when he created you. God does not see the sinful acts you commit, he sees the heart (pure) of you and the person he created you to be (a good person). Accept his love and his forgiveness, mercy, and grace. After you have done this, show others this same attitude (love, forgiveness, mercy, and help those in need when you have the ability and power to, or bring it to God if you are unable to help on your own) towards others regardless of their background, status, race, gender, age, or anything else. Love does not see these things or discriminate. Love (God is love) loves all of his people. If you didn’t realize you had this ungodly attitude towards others but do now, then it is not too late for you. Ask God to help you make the changes you need to make to act more like him and he will start working in you to bring forth the needed changes. And remember, God loves you right now, just as you are and will be happy when you tell him that you want to be more like him.