Here is a Scripture that caused a shift in the way I viewed the poor. It was spoken by our Messiah, Yeshua and what I perceived from his statement was that the cause or the cry of the poor was something I didn’t need to be concerned about. Here is the Scripture:
For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. Matthew 26:11 KJV (King James Version)
For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. Matthew 26:11 ESV
Yeshua spoke this to his disciples and the way I perceived this statement was that a relationship with God was more important than taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves. Although there may be an element of truth to that, at the time Messiah spoke those words, but he also said in the Gospel of Mark,
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. Mark 10:21 KJV
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mark 10:21 ESV
It’s clear that the Messiah was trying to make a point about the poor on this planet and that they are a great concern for him. In helping them, we are going to be rewarded by God, in the present, and in our life after death. But how can someone pay tithes and offerings to their Church, Mosque or Synagogue and also provide help for the poor? I mean, we can only give so much money before we ourselves have to start eating out of food banks or going without. Is there a happy medium, a place that pleases God with our giving. For most of us, paying a tithe on our gross income, plus offerings leaves a small, if non-existent, amount for the poor. Where can we find the money to help the poor if our tithes and offerings have all but consumed that amount? Let’s consider another Scripture where we find the Messiah talking about who and who will not inherit the Kingdom. The whole discourse is very good to read, but we’ll pick it up in Matthew Chapter 25:37
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:37-40 KJV
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 a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
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.’ Matthew 25:37-40 ESV
What we don’t see anywhere in this discourse by the Messiah is an admonishment to give to well-to-do people of which some Pastors are, especially to those who have large assemblies. So, in giving to our Congregations, have we put the things of God on the back burner by giving to affluent individuals, instead of giving to the poor. Or, in other words, is giving to a Pastor synonymous with giving to God? Judging by the discourse in Matthew 25:31-46 we don’t see that. In fact, we don’t see that anywhere in the New Testament. Could this be one of the reasons why God is beginning to deal with religious organizations so strongly? That in our attempts to create elaborate ministries, we’ve all but forgotten the poor.
If you want to be rich, give to the poor.
Messiah said nothing about rewarding a person for the amount of times they went to Church a week, or a Synagogue or Mosque for that matter. All he is asking us is this, “Did you remember the poor?” In this day and age mankind seeks technology to make its lives more convenient and entertaining, but have we lost the real meaning of what it means to have compassion on those less fortunate than ourselves?
We have all but forgotten what it means to remember the poor, widows and orphans. We’re so busy trying to make proselytes out of disinterested people that we have left the poor for dead. To be honest, we don’t want anything to do with people who need a helping hand because it’s too much of a bother. God help us, this is not the way things should be. If we think God is going to reward us by giving to a Pastor or other religious leader, then think again. The reward you get for giving money to an assembly is that you get a chunk of money from the tax man, at tax time. You have your reward in full.
How would one begin to give to the poor? It’s really very simple:
1) Stop giving so much money to your Church and give more to those who really need it.
2) Store up your rewards in heaven, by giving without your left hand knowing what the right hand is doing-give in secret!
3) Instead of giving your money to a ministry, create your own storehouse of money for the poor. Take the money you allotted to pay your tithes to your assembly with and save it for the poor. Who knows? There may come a day when you will need that money.
4) Give with a cheerful heart. If you don’t feel happy giving money to people, or if you’re giving a lot already, keep it for yourself. You still have to take care of you, don’t you? Do you really think the Church ministry will take care of you? In all things be wise and prudent. Don’t give unnecessarily, give and act when God shows you or tells you. I can assure you, he is not telling you to give it to a Church, or other assembly. If the man of God needs money to eat, let him work for his income and not live off the avails of another person. We are called to help the poor, not support Pastors or other leaders financially.