“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord…
Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)
Two church officials met one morning in London England after a night of bombs dropping on the city. One of the men had endured more of war than his sense of God could endure. He said to his colleague, “I just wish I was running this world for 5 minutes!” The other minister, who was equally weary of war said more wisely, “If you were running this world for 5 minutes I would not want to live in it for 5 seconds.”
The wiser comment in that conversation points out the dilemma we all have when we face tragedy in life. We wish God to intervene and prevent the tragedy in the first place. But then we want God to retreat into the background and let us run the world ourselves. God should only show up to sort out the problems of life. Otherwise many people simply wish to be left alone.
Things get a bit confused when a farmer prays for rain to help grow the seed he has sown. The same day nearby the farmer’s field a teacher prays for a day of sun for the class picnic she has organised. What is God to do?
Or what is God to think when people only wish Him to show up when they are in a messy situation like illness and then when He heals them He is no longer desired or wanted? What is God to think of people using Him that way?
It is a common thing for people to complain about how God is running His world. The criticism of God is usually done by people who might help the poor with some of their resources but do not. Is it a guilty conscience that stirs up a criticism of God? They do nothing to help the poor and then complain that God is doing anything either. Does this not sound hypocritical?
It does not occur to some people that they have more than they require in life from God in order to give to those who have great needs. In other words God gives many of us such abundance that we are easily able to relieve the suffering of others. I speak of more than money but not less than money.
Good benevolent agencies need to be identified so we can give generously to the needy. This is really God’s way of caring for the poor among us. God wishes us to see that when we minister to the poor it is really Him that we give to. Our verse today teaches that principle clearly.
There is more to this giving than merely sending money to help pay for food and shelter. We are social creatures and need to have personal touches on the help we receive. A visit, a letter, a card, are all ways to give to the poor. The great message of the Gospel is that God has visited us in the person of His Son. God has done the greater work of caring for our spiritual needs. Surely we can reach out to others with love and minister to their physical and spiritual needs as well.
Regardless of what your own concerns are at this time of year may you give to the poor and your own sorrow and suffering will diminish as you bring joy to those in need. Be kind to the poor and you will lend to God.