The topic that I'm going to be talking about in today's writing is one that is very close to my heart. Coming from a big family, there were many things we went without, even though we had our needs taken care of. We always had a roof over our head, we always had 3 good meals a day, and clothes on our back. We also were raised to show compassion and care about those who were less fortunate than us. Even though we were what Americans would call low to middle class, we were still one of the richest families in the world.
I remember hearing the speech, "People in third world countries would love to have the food that you're complaining about eating." So us kids learned to not complain about what we did or didn't have.
Growing up, one of the greatest blessings I've gotten to do over the last ten years has been sponsor a child through Children International. It's helped me to continue to realize that there are great blessings in giving to those in need, and in turn, taking the focus off of what I don't have.
Every time I open The Bible, I'm astonished at how much emphasis is placed on showing compassion for and helping the needy. As with alot of key things, we as humans turn a blind eye to this. I don't believe we mean to, but it happens in our attempts to better our own lifestyles. There are several key points that God has shown me on this issue that I pray blesses you and inspires you to take action and help those in need.
1. Don't labor to be rich.
Proverbs 23:4-5: Don't labor to be rich: cease from your own wisdom. Will you set your eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
A fact of life is that God never tells us we can't have things. HE JUST DOESN'T WANT THE THINGS TO HAVE US. What this means is he doesn't want the desire to have more than what you have to consume you to the point where you forget what's important. Too many times in the pursuit of money, people forget to care about people and allowing God to move through them to meet the needs of others. Many times it's not money that they need, it's knowing that someone actually cares about them AS A PERSON, NOT FOR WHAT THEY HAVE OR DON'T HAVE.
When a person pursues riches, they find that the riches have them. Just look at our advertising. When our heart is pursuing riches, subtly we're being pulled to be selfish. When we become selfish, the desire for things that are being pushed in advertising become more alluring. It's not that we can necessarily afford them. We think we need those things. This is why if a person pursues riches, the more money that is attained, the more problems come with it.
2. A tough question.
Matthew 19:16-24: And behold, one came and said unto him, 'Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?' And he said unto him, 'Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.' He said unto Jesus, 'Which?' Jesus said, 'You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' The young man said unto him, 'All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?' Jesus said unto him, 'If you will be perfect, go and sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me.' But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said unto his disciples, "Truly I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
The tough question that needs to be asked is, "How would you react if God commanded you to go and sell ALL THAT YOU HAVE and give to the poor?" Even though I don't have alot, this question is a reality check for me. If I was commanded to sell everything I have and give to the poor, it would be difficult because I have a high degree of comfort coming home to a roof over my head, getting to eat consistently two meals a day, writing these e-mails, and playing my NBA Live game on Playstation 2.
That's the thing. WE GET SO CAUGHT UP IN OUR COMFORT THAT WE DON'T HEAR WHAT GOD IS TELLING US TO DO. None of us are completely out of our comfort zones. This is the trap that riches have on us.
With the rich young ruler in this verse, he didn't get that the commandments mentioned that he obey ALL are, "LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." When a person hoards riches to themselves, they love themselves more than their neighbor. Jesus doesn't tell us to love our neighbor more or less than we love ourselves. IF WE LOVE THEM MORE, WE NEGLECT TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES. IF WE LOVE THEM LESS, WE ARE SELFISH. Either way needs to be changed. There shouldn't be anything that we attain that shouldn't be readily available to give away at a moment's notice.
3. Being obedient to God means giving even when we don't want to.
But this I say, He which sows sparingly will reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully will reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Most people who know me doesn't take them long to see that I'm a giving person. However, being a giving person, I still have my times where I don't give cheerfully. Many times God will have me give something that I ask "You want me to do what?" We're not always going to be cheerful when God commands us to give either something of great value to us or greater amounts of money than is comfortable. God does this to stretch our faith. Do we really trust that "My God will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus?" If so, it's important for us to continue to step out in faith and allow God to prove it to us.
Keep in mind that God doesn't need to use money to bless us. Everything on this earth belongs to God, so he'll move heaven and earth to bless his children.
4. Consequences for not showing compassion to the poor.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented. (Luke 16:19-25)
I've referenced this scripture several times in writings I've done in the past, but haven't noticed this particular truth from it. WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.
The rich man didn't have compassion on Lazarus because of his lack. He likely gave every excuse he could as to why he shouldn't help. (Lazarus is lazy. If I help him, he'll take advantage of me. He's not going to use what I give him for the reason he says he's going to...and so on.) Because he didn't have compassion and help those in need, he wasn't helped when in torments.
This truth isn't just limited to helping the financial poor. It also includes those who we come across each day that are in need of a touch by God. When we're too busy in our day to day lives to take the time to care, we look right past the wounded people God placed in our lives to care for. WE WILL ANSWER TO GOD FOR THE TIMES THAT WE MISS THE MARK ON THIS. God does have grace when we are trying but just miss it. However, when we know this is something that needs to be done, but we just don't do it, we are judged for it.
If we are Christians (as the majority of people here in America say we are), our job is to take the time to care for those who are hurting. We can't afford to turn a blind eye to it and refuse to take the time to care for people. People need to know that Jesus cares for them, regardless of the lives they live and that he wants to help them and us through the struggles we all have. The humbling thing is that God uses people to show his love. We need to stop turning a blind eye to this and allow God to use us the way he wants to use us, not the way we think he wants to use us.
It's time that we as Christians step out of our comfort and give people what they need. That is a tangible experience with Jesus Christ. Everyone needs to know that Jesus loves them and that he cares about whatever situation they're going through. In showing this, we need to be willing to be used by God to care for those he brings across our path. We only have one chance. The chance is only for as long as we're on this earth. This world needs to be able to distinguish the love of Christ from everything else the world has to offer. THE LOVE OF CHRIST NEEDS TO BE SO POWERFUL IN THEIR LIVES THAT THEY KNOW THEY'D BE FOOLISH TO CHOOSE WHAT THE WORLD HAS. Showing compassion for their needs is a great place to start.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
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