If Anyone Is Poor Among You

Wendy Pope

Day: 15 | Plan: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading: Deuteronomy 15

Deuteronomy 15:10 (NIV) Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”

Tucked between God’s instructions for the release of debt and sacrificing of firstborn male animals are timeless guidelines for taking care of the poor. Our God is compassionate and cares deeply for those who are less fortunate, making provision for them in the Law. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

The poor, in Deuteronomy 15:7, are those in need, poverty-stricken and subject to oppression. In most cases people showed them very little dignity or respect. The Mosaic Law concerning the unfortunate instructs the Israelites to care for fellow Israelites: widow and orphans, as well as foreigners and residential foreigners. In summary: kindness and mercy should be shown to all people.

Moses doesn’t just repeat the Law; he gives specific directives on how to live out the Law in the new land. He states, “do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them” (Deuteronomy 15:7). In short, be open-hearted and openhanded. And with open hands and hearts “give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart” (Deuteronomy 15:10).

Maybe this sounds familiar.

When speaking to the new church in Galatia Paul says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). Charity starts at home, responding to the needs of the people among us—the church. Charity also reaches beyond the borders of home. Jesus’ brother, James, reminds us “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).

Indeed, in our day we have those who are in need, less fortunate and poor who live among us and beyond our borders. Can we rise to the challenge of both the Mosaic Law and New Testament command? We have the privilege of bringing them more than a handout. We offer them real hope by being the hands, heart and feet of Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, I don’t often see the needs of others because I am too busy taking care of my own needs. Please forgive me for not being more aware and sometimes even cynical of the plight of others. Give me Your eyes to see and ears to hear the needs around me. Propel me with Your love to step up and generously help without complaint or reservation. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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