August 25


Care for the Poor


Proverbs 19:17; 22:1-4, 8, 9, 16, 22, 23; 23:10, 11


            KEY VERSE: He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.

n      Proverbs 19:17


The affluent are tempted to ignore the poor. After all, did not Jesus tell us that “the poor are always with us”? Some will say, “If they were willing to work hard like I do, they would not have to be poor.”

But even if the rich remain aloof and avoid contact with the poor, those who follow Jesus cannot. Solomon warns us to look after the poor. Jesus insists upon it. He even says that in the final judgment, we will be judged on the basis of whether or not we reached out in love to “the least of these our brethren.”

Solomon reminds us that the rich and the poor have a lot in common. The Lord has made us all. Society may make distinctions such as rich and poor, but finally death brings us all to a common thing, the grave.

I love the story Richard Baynes tells about the Greek philosopher, Diogenes. He often used bizarre behavior to convey his teaching. Once Alexander the Great came upon Diogenes examining a big pile of bones. Asked by Alexander what he was doing, the philosopher gave this answer:

“Sir, I am searching for the bones of your father, but I can’t distinguish those of your father from those of his slaves.”

Diogenes hammered home a great lesson to Alexander. No matter what fame and fortune may come out way, “all paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

It will help us if we can convince ourselves that God prospers us not so we can have more, but so we may give more to meet the needs of the poor. I keep a picture on my desk of Alfred and Muumbe Kalembo and their five children. This picture of “the Kalembo Tribe” from Zambia reminds me daily that the poor, starving children of that impoverished country need help.

I met the Kalembos through my son Matt. He and Alfred graduated together from Asbury Theological Seminary. I respect Alfred deeply because this summer he and his family are returning to Zambia to minister to his people. Alfred grew up in a poor village where there was no school and no fresh water.

Alfred could find a way to stay in America and enjoy the comforts of living here. But he is turning a deaf ear to the call of comfort and obeying the call of God to go home and care for the poor. I know that I must help him – and I will.

Where are the poor you will help? Who are the poor God wants you to care about? As God’s people we have no choice: we must, as we are able, care for the poor!