One particular verse of Scripture has been pinging around in my brain for weeks now. Proverbs 19:17 promises, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.”
This verse is figurative, of course, because no one can literally loan money to God. He already owns it all, and has simply entrusted it to you and me for a while. So the “loaning” part is just an expression that conveys one point: God has extra blessings for people who are kind and compassionate to others in need.
But the idea of helping the poor always creates a certain amount of tension. We worry that the money we give to some stranger on the street may be used for drugs or other addictive substances. We suppose it would be better to actually accompany this person to a restaurant and pay for his meal. But who has time for all that? So what are some easy ways wealthy Americans like you and me can share with our fellow man?
- If the person looks like he might be hungry, give him some money for a meal. Sure, you’re taking a chance he may just blow it on liquor, but that’s more Christ-like than possibly leaving a hungry person to spend another long night with an empty belly. If you can help a stranger, lean in to intervene and offer some help.
- Locate the homeless shelter in your area and ask if you could bring over some winter coats. If they agree- and they probably will- collect some used or new coats from friends and neighbors, and deliver them before the weather gets colder.
- Buy a bag full of groceries and deliver them to a food bank in your town. You can generally visit a website to determine the kinds and sizes of food items that particular food bank is looking for. If you don’t like shopping, just mail them a check.
- Find a charitable ministry you’d enjoy being a part of and volunteer to spearhead that ministry for your local church. Operation Christmas Child (Samaritans Purse) sends gift boxes to children around the world in the name of Jesus. Feed My Starving Children enlists congregations is packing thousands of special meal packs to be distributed to desperate communities around the globe. The possibilities for being kind to the poor are endless.
- Look around at the people within your own circle of acquaintances. Quite often, the people most in need to are unwilling to ask. They don’t want to impose on others or seem like a slacker. If you suspect someone you know might need some help, show some interest and ask if everything’s okay. If you are convinced that person needs food or some other essential item, ask for the privilege or sharing or simply mail a gift card anonymously.
It’s always nice to be the recipient of God’s blessings. But it’s also very satisfying to know that you have genuinely helped another human being; and that in the process, you have made God smile.
Lift up the cross!