Remembering the Poor

But Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people, who owned nothing; and at that time he gave them vineyards and fields. Jeremiah 39:10

Here Judah is being overthrown by the Chaldeans, people are being killed or hauled off into captivity, but the poorest are not only left alone, they are given land, something they never had before. I love this example of God remembering the poor.

In the Levitical law we read one way of how God remembered the poor. The Jews were commanded, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:22

Although we are warned not to show partiality toward the poor (Lev. 19:15), we are also told not to discriminate against them (James 2:2-4). Here are some other things we are told.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

“Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.” Acts 10:31

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galations 2:10

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,” Luke 4:18

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14

To be a Christian is to remember the poor. To be like Jesus we must bring the gospel to the poor. He literally proclaimed the recovery of sight to the blind and he literally preached to the poor. We are told to give to the poor and to invite them in.

Jesus also tells us we will always have the poor with us and can do good any time we wish. It is wonderful to give your money to the poor, especially to bless those of the household of faith. And it’s wonderful to participate in sharing the gospel with the poor. But consider when the last time was you invited the poor in? Did you have a homeless person at your dinner table when you feasted on Thanksgiving or Christmas?

One way to to prepare for the worsening economy is to give to the poor. Treat them as you want to be treated. We are told that in giving to the poor we will be “providing purses” for ourselves that won’t ever be empty (Luke 12:33). But there are more ways to give to the poor. We can give them our time, our energy, our love–the love of Christ–the kind of love that’s not afraid to reach out and touch.