By Barrett Vanlandingham
You drive up to an intersection. A man stands there with a sad face and a handwritten sign that says, “Will work for food!” You see another guy sleeping under a bridge, a doorway, or a park bench.
You see another man with his wife and children at your worship service who obviously needs help.
The reality is that Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you…”
This is the time of year when the number of street beggars seems to increase. So how are Christians supposed to respond?
We’ve all seen the investigative reports that show swindlers posing as down and out homeless people. God will deal with them in his own way and time. The Apostle Paul speaks strongly against expecting to get something for nothing. “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
Now granted, a person who is not a Christian may not know about this command, and may not live by them, especially since our tax dollars feed and clothe people whether they put forth any effort to earn a living or not.
In fact, an argument could be made that poor people are less likely now than ever to feel the need to be a part of the Lord’s body (the church).
Why? Because the government supplies all their earthly needs. In the first century, this was a function of the church.
Jesus not only met people’s physical and nutritional needs by providing healing and food, but he also met their spiritual needs by showing them the way to heaven.
Paul says we should “do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:10)”.
This is a challenge to all Christians to not only seek opportunities to teach the Gospel story of Jesus Christ, but also opportunities to be good stewards of our finances. This may mean that we cannot give money to every beggar we see. But we should be receptive when the Holy Spirit nudges us to give a little extra to children’s homes, mission efforts in poor countries, and churches or charities who have the ability to spend the money where needed.
And yes, it may mean personally giving to a street beggar or other needy friend now and then. Who knows? Maybe God provides opportunities for us to show compassion just to see how we will react. In Matthew 25:34-46, Jesus encouraged his followers to help those who were hungry, in need of clothes, medical help, or a simple visit in prison.
He said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Have a great week!
Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.