At some point in each of our lives, we come to a place where we are in need of prayer, encouragement, support, and assistance. Within the Christian community, we are all in need of these things. Problem is, there is criticism, judgment, and lack of compassion and empathy upon those who come with their needs. Judging prevents blessings on those whom God has blessed.
Growing up as a youth in the LDS (Mormon Church) one of my favorite hymns is titled Because I have been Given Much:
The teachings of the Bible are not silent when it comes to our Christian duty. In both Mark and Luke, we read about the widow who came and paid her tithes with all the money she had:
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. (Mark 12:41-44, ESV).
And in Luke:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins, and he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4, ESV).
In our society today, we forget the simple truths and blessings giving provides. For those struggling financially, we fail to grasp the concept that as we give all we have to God there are blessings poured out into our lives in ways we may never thought possible. We allow our own poverty to prevent us from receiving the blessings our Sovereign and loving Heavenly father has in store for us.
However, our giving is not something we do out of rote, out of a sense of obligation. It is something that is radical in which we give completely, wholly and from our core. It is given in faith and in trust. When we sit in judgment with ourselves and criticize our own self for giving, we are missing out on greater blessings.
However, scripture does not just teach about giving offerings to God. Scripture also teaches about how we are blessed in order to reach out and bless those who also are in need. And, yes, there is coming judgment upon those who withhold giving to those who are in need, those who are in poverty.
In Matthew, Christ expounds upon the judgment on people:
When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the lease of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Throughout scripture, we are blessed by a Sovereign God in order to reach out and bless others. To impact the lives of other people. We are given gifts to exploit for the benefit of the kingdom of God and to benefit the harmony and unity of the Christian body. This is done without judgment, criticism and biased assumptions.
We are called to love God and to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:31 and Luke 10:27). This is a relational issue. How can we say we love God, if we are not reaching out to those who are marginalized by society today? How can we honestly examine ourselves and harbor resentment towards those who stand in need of sustenance?
One of the major issues in the Christian church today is this idea that “all I will do is pray for you that God will provide” and then turn the individual away without honoring their request. In Isaiah 58:7, we read the following teaching:
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house, when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (ESV).
And in 1 John 3:17, we read this teaching:
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (ESV).
God knows all of our needs. His promises are true. As we seek the kingdom of heaven, He will supply all we stand in need of. Yet, many Christians believe that this is no longer relevant and have closed off their hearts to those who come in need. We simply, “pray” that God will bless them. Instead of praying, “Sovereign God, in what way may I be able to bless them with what you have blessed me with?”
Authentic Christian living is not about how God is able and capable of blessing us, it is about how we are able and capable of blessing others who stand in need.
Today, who have you turned away? Who in your Church is in need of support, encouragement, assistance and help? Who are you praying for to be a blessing to?