How God Gives

I was helping out a few years ago at “Christmas Cheer,” the Salvation Army’s annual event whereby disadvantaged families in Central Ohio receive groceries for their own holiday feast and a toy for each child in the home. There was the good-natured chatting with the steady stream of folks—engagement is my favorite part of the evening—and plenty of excitement about Christmas. At one point, a man came through the line, accompanying a friend but not filling a cart of his own. A certain resignation contoured his face as he explained to me, “I’m homeless. I can’t take anything because I have no place to keep it.” Who knows how this man got to such a point—addictions, mental illness, exploitation, a series of poor decisions? But this was poverty.

God cares for the poor. His heart is with them and his actions are for them—mind, body and soul. Writes the apostle James to Christian believers, “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”1 This is not to suggest poverty itself is a means to heaven, rather faith is, and for many, coming to the end of our own means is the beginning of reliance on God. Could there be a more earnest plea of “Give us this day our daily bread”2 than when uttered from lips of those who have none at all? Then how does God answer these petitions of the poor?

He says “yes” through people. And not just those with means, for like the widow who put into the temple treasury all she had, two copper coins,3 those who have the least are often the most generous with what they have. God will indeed “deliver the needy who cry out,”4 and when we so pour ourselves into others, we do so not only to them, but to Christ himself. For He will one day say to some, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”5 This is a promise; it will happen. So, whether you give to the poor directly or through a ministry you know to be responsible and effective in helping them emerge from poverty’s grasp, do so eagerly, joyfully and expectantly, for the day comes when we will stand as one before Him who unites us in Himself—Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Father, give me an undivided heart, that my love for You would blossom in generosity toward others. Lead me in Your ways in heart and in action. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 James 2:5 ESV
2 Matthew 6:11 ESV
3 Luke 21:1-4
4 Psalm 72:12
5 Matthew 26:35, 40