“The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.”
1 Samuel 2:7 (NIV)
At times, as we study the history of God’s people we can come across some very strange views that certain of them held. For example some devoted Christians in history thought that if our verse for today is true then they should do nothing to help relieve the poverty and suffering around us. After all, they reason, if God sent the poverty we should not seek to correct His providence.
Sadly these people are only half right. Indeed God is the author of poverty as our verse plainly states. In Proverbs we read of how God overrules our plans for life (Proverbs 16:9; 19:21). Where they go wrong is in failing to recognize that God calls on us to address the needs of the poor. There are various commands to God’s people to give to those who have less and ensure they have the necessities of life.
In Leviticus 19:10 and 23:22 we read of instructions to the farmers who are harvesting their crops. God tells them to leave some of their harvest behind in the fields or vineyards in order that those who are too poor to have a field to harvest may find their needs met. C.S.Lewis has made various comments about how we who have more than enough need to give to the Lord until our giving interferes with our style of living.
We bow before a sovereign God and then seek to relieve suffering wherever we find it. Listen to Deuteronomy 15:7-8 where it says, “…do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.” (NIV)
God uses His people of means to address the needs of the poor. We who have the ability to help, cannot excuse ourselves from assisting those in need because we think we would fight against the will of God.
There is also the great blessing that comes to those who give to help the ones who lack the necessities of life. Our Lord said that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)
Can you do something today to relieve the suffering of another person? It may be sending a casserole to a bereaved neighbour, or writing a word of encouragement and emailing it or mailing it to someone in pain, it may be writing a cheque to someone who has lost their job. There are so many ways we can use what resources we have to help another person.
Paul wrote of the Macedonian churches in his day who were in dire straits themselves yet as he said, “…their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity…they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” 2 Corinthians 8:2-3 (NIV). You will be blessed by God as you do for another what you need done for yourself. No one outgives God.