“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.” (Matthew 6:2)
When the church tries to help the poor, this is an area where she fails miserably. The issue is that she believes that unless she lets others know that she’s helping the poor that others will not be motivated into giving her donations to channel to the poor.
I have never seen a charitable organization presenting a budget that is less than the years before. Every charitable organization wants more and more in the hope of doing more for more people with the belief that the greater their burden, the greater their reward.
When the people of Israel settled into Canaan, God told them, “there should never be any poor among you” (Deut. 15:4), and yet later said, “there will always be poor among you” (Deut. 15:4)
In Leviticus 19:10-11, God told the people, ‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.”
In chapter 23, verse 22, God said again, “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 for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.”
“I am the LORD your God.”, What did God mean by such declaration?
God meant that He was their provider. Yes, they worked the vineyards and the fields, but it was God caused everything to grow and yield an abundant harvest.
Likewise, every charitable organization can feel anxious to help the poor as if God had left the poor behind. Yet it is God who causes the poor to be among us so that we always manifest a heart of giving toward them as God himself daily manifest His heart toward us.
Giving to the poor should never become a competition. Giving to the poor should never make the poor feel dependent of us. Giving to the poor should simply communicate to them that we love them as ourselves…or better yet, as God loves us, and therefore care for them just as well.
When a woman approached Jesus for help, Jesus my Lord replied that he came only for those of the household of Israel and that the bread dedicated for the children should not be handed over to the dogs (Matthew 15:24-27). Then she replied,
“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Matthew 15:24-27)
“Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15:28)
The great faith that she had was that God had revealed to her that Jesus is the one, the only one who could help her in her situation.
When we help the poor, we’re sharing “the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
When we help the poor, we’re sharing “the gleaning of our harvest.”
When we help the poor, we’re sharing “the fallen fruit of our vineyard.
Yet, we are not to do it at the cost of others. We are to do it at our own cost. This way, the burden is manageable. This way, we’re not tempted into bitterness when others don’t donate as much as we had expected. This way, we’re not ringing a cow bell telling others, “look! I’m giving to the poor”.
“Be careful not to perform your righteous acts before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:2)
When the church gives to the needy, many times the church goes on to report out that they fed and clothed x amount of people at this location.
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3-4)
Had the church follow this simple principle, her burdens would have been a lot less. Less stress, less anxiety. The best way for anyone to help the poor is for each person capable to do so to go ahead and help another person as the Holy Spirit moves his or her heart to do so. Do so, not for one’s honor, not for one’s praises, but for loving the other person as oneself.
Because you never know where life will lead you. One day, it may be you or another at the receiving end.
Before God, we’re always the poor ones. Because of Christ, we are now the rich ones. Rich, not necessarily in materials, but in hope, in love, in joy, in peace. And that’s what as a church we are to be giving to the poor: hope, love, joy and peace. Christ is the source of such life essentials, not our human efforts. So relax and rejoice in Christ and share Christ not by anxiety or anger but by joy and peace as you have resolved in your heart.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Let your cheerfulness be the joy of Christ, the freedom of Christ, the peace of Christ alone.
Teaching someone how to help themselves and others sometimes is better than just handing them things to fill up their own pockets as they lock those hands in their pockets not thinking about others but only themselves.
There should never be…but yet there will always be poor among you. Nevertheless, God is the provider and he has provided Christ as our way to live, our way to rejoice, our way to breathe, our way to love, our way to give. Jesus is the way.
Unless you yourself have something that you can give, it’s not good to call the poor to come and collect while you’re fighting with others to give you something that they themselves could have used to help those in their surroundings.
As Christ once said to the disciples,
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16)
Give them Christ, give them the hope you have in Christ, the joy you have in Christ, the peace you have in Christ. Such peace is God.
Hence, “I am the Lord your God”. The Lord, your provider. Amen.