I have had a conviction and burden placed on my heart in this season of life. The burden is for the poor and needy. To take it further, my conviction is about American wealth in light of the massive amount of people who have nothing. Something does not sit well within me when I consider our loaded bank accounts, when there are thousands of children dying every single day due to a lack of food or water. We have many empty, extra rooms in our houses while people are sleeping in the streets or in dirt huts.
We are so good at making excuses for our lack of empathy for the poor and needy. One of our biggest excuses is to say that the need is so large that we can never make a lasting dent. This is simply just a way for us to justify our laziness and comfort. Someone once told me, from Scripture, that there will always be poor people in the world. They used this as a way of telling me that even if they focused on the issue, it would not ultimately make a difference. Let’s discuss the verse they were referring to.
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11a)
What the person said was not ultimately wrong, but it was twisted to their own desires and comfort. Deuteronomy 15:11 does not stop with the sentence of Scripture listed above. That is only half of the verse. If we look at the second half, we will see what God thinks about this never ending number of poor in our lands. He will shatter the excuse that was given to me that day.
“Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'” (Deuteronomy 15:11b)
What is God’s response to the poor in our lands? “Open wide your hand to them,” He says. He is clearly not content with our excuses. It might just be that God placed you where you are to make a difference among the poor and needy in your land. Are you open to this reality or are you content with keeping your riches to yourself? I think this is a massive question that we must ask ourselves. The need is massive and God commands us to open up our hands.
What if I told you that nearly 30,000 children would die this very day due to a lack of three things that we take for granted? This many children will die today due to a lack of water, a lack of food, or a lack of medication for a preventable disease. Does that tug on your heart strings at all? I bet it would if that was happening with our own children in our own backyard. We are very good at ignoring things that are not happening right in front of us. As long as we do not physically see the suffering, we are okay with keeping a tight grip on our wallets instead of opening our hands to help.
Dream with me for a moment. What if 10,000 people would give up their daily $5 Starbucks for a two week span? That would amount to $500,000 saved. How much impact do you think $500,000 could make in helping bring water to dying children? What if our churches would decide to give millions of dollars away, instead of building multimillion dollar buildings? How much food could be provided to dying children with millions of dollars? I believe the Bible calls us to a much different reality than the one we are currently living in.
I want to look at one of the most common excuses we have when it comes to the poor and needy. Over and over, people say, “Well, so many people cheat the system these days. Some people make a living begging for money and some people are just lazy.” Both statements are very true. There is a plethora of people using the system to make easy money. But I want you to think through the lens of your own obedience, not what somebody else does. What does Jesus tell us to do? We must see that His command to us is not dependent upon the obedience of anyone else.
“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42)
Jesus says, “Give to the one who asks.” He does not say, “Only give to them if you feel that they are sincere.” Our obedience is judged by our actions. If you get scammed by someone who pretends to be needy, the fault is not found in you. You did your part by obeying the command of Jesus. I can promise you that Jesus will never be mad at you for giving. At judgement day you will not hear Him say, “I cannot believe you gave money to that guy on the side of the road! You knew he may use it in an unfit way!” Give. Open wide your hands. Jesus is pleased when you do.
Opening our hands to the poor and needy is not an easy command. We like our comfort and our stuff. However, this is no way to live! There are legitimate needs all around us. There are people suffering and dying at this very moment. What are we going to do about it? Are we going to continue to pad our wallets? Or are we going to open wide our hands? The amazing thing is that when we meet a physical need, it also gives us a chance to meet a spiritual need. This is the most important aspect of opening our hands.
Meeting only a physical need is nothing more than a bandaid. Opening our hands to help the poor and needy is a massive opportunity to tell the poor and needy why we open our hands. We open our hands because the God of the universe opened His hands to us! This Good News is much more life giving than money, food, water, or medication could ever be! Your efforts to meet physical needs make a massive earthly difference. Partner that with meeting spiritual needs and you will be making a massive eternal difference!
I want to simply challenge you to give this writing thought and prayer. After thought and prayer, I would love to hear what the Lord leads you to! Let us be burdened for the things that burden the Lord! Let us follow where He sends us as a result! Sure, there will always be poor in the lands. “Therefore,” God says, “Open wide your hands!”