“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.” ~ Mother Teresa
The poor serve as a parable of sorts. We can learn a lot from the poor. Jesus as the Messiah came to serve those who were in desperate need; such as the lame, the blind, the sick and the poor. Their physical needs can be used to teach us lessons about our spiritual condition. We too are in desperate need of someone to love us, care for us, heal us and restore us spiritually.
In His final week just before the cross, Jesus told His disciples that He wouldn’t be with them much longer but the poor would always be with them. In that same week He told his disciples that whatever they did for “the least of these,” it was as if they were doing it for Him. You serve Jesus anytime you serve the poor.
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him. (Proverbs 14:31 NLT)
Solomon says that you actually “insult God” when you treat the poor poorly. However, when you help the poor, you honor Him. That’s huge! It takes genuine humility and generosity to truly serve the poor. They have nothing they can give you in return. That sounds a lot like grace.
Have your ever been poor in spirit? I think of times that I’m broken because of sin or because I was short-tempered with someone or spoke about them behind their back. I am poor in spirit when I know I’ve displeased God with my words or actions. I’ve sinned and I’m in desperate need of help. I am poor. I have nothing to offer to pay for my sin. Just as Jesus came to those who were desperate in their physical needs, so He comes to us in our spiritual poverty. He paid the price for us when we had nothing of our own to give.
It’s important to be genuine in your approach to helping the poor. Remember, they are people not projects. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand life from their perspective. It can get messy and challenging. Remember your own poverty spiritually and how God uses the poor to remind us to serve Christ by serving them.
As a Christian leader, it’s important for you to set an example for serving the poor. Don’t just give from a distance, but get up close, like you would if they were Jesus. Keep in mind, whatever you do for them, you do for Him.
Commit to helping the poor today in a way that honors God and glorifies Him. Humbly acknowledge that you need His mercy and grace as much as they do. Learn lessons from the parables of poverty and you will keep the rest of life in its proper perspective.