“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”
Generosity -- especially toward the poor -- is a central virtue of godly people. The Lord cares about people who are in a position of poverty, and he seeks to minister to them through the Christian community.
As we have emphasized continuously, Christians are called to be agents of God’s kingdom. Think about what that really means. We are the agency of how the Lord does things in the world. Here is how the dictionary defines agency: “A person or thing through which action is executed or an end is achieved …. A thing or person that acts to produce a particular result … Action or intervention, especially such as to produce a particular effect.”
The operative verb in those definitions is action, and so it is with the life to which the Lord calls us. First God calls us to repent and believe, and then he calls us to take action in the world as his ambassadors. Obviously, there are times when the Lord acts directly to accomplish something, but his primary strategy is to work through his people. He wants us to do things. He calls us to take action.
I think we are sometimes in danger of asking God to do things that in reality he wants us to do. Throughout my life I have heard Christian leaders admonish believers to “have faith and wait on the Lord.” Could it be that in many of these situations the Lord actually wants us to have faith and take action?
And when I say “take action,” I mean action that is motivated by faith, informed by scripture, empowered by the Spirit, and directed by wisdom. In fact, this is the central theme of the entire book of Proverbs.
Apply this to taking care of the poor. Caring for the poor is motivated by love, grace, and kindness, which are attributes of the image and character of God. Indifference toward the poor is motivated by selfishness and hard-heartedness.
Scripture -- especially Proverbs -- has much to say about our attitude and action toward people in poverty.
“A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.” (Proverbs 29.7)
“Blessed is the one who considers the poor. In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him.” (Psalm 41.1)
“A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food.” (Proverbs 28.3)
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6.17-19)
The Lord is a God of grace and generosity, and we are called to be agents of his grace and generosity. May it be so.