More than 3 billion people live in poverty. That's almost half of the Earth's population. Currently, the Earth is able to sustain more than 10 Billion people on the planet with the resources that are available. That's 3 billion more than what live on it right now. While there are many charitable organizations both in the secular and religions realms of society, there is not enough of a giving spirit. The poor will always be with us, but for over half of the world to wonder where it's next meal will come from is a tragedy. It hits home that, more than ever, we as followers of Christ must seek to go beyond what is normal to reach out and help those in need. Whether with food, clothing, provisions or shelter, seeking to assist the needy is paramount in Christ's Kingdom. He said so in Matthew 25.
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:45-46)
Christ is talking about helping those in need. Many religious leaders will stop short of saying that we can go to Hell if we don't help others. After all, we are saved by grace, not works (Ephesians 2:8) However, the grace that saves inspires us to do the work of the Lord (Ephesians 2:10). Christ didn't save us to sit on the sidelines while people literally and spiritually die. He saved us and filled us with His Spirit, His compassion, His desire, His righteousness. To reject this is to reject the salvation that He gave us. How can we enter into His Kingdom if we refuse to be transformed.
If we don't reach for those in need in the physical, we won't reach for those in need in the spiritual. How can we? If the easily seen needs of the poor and destitute don't move us, how will the unseen needs of the spiritually poor and destitute inspire us? We won't be able to fulfill God's ultimate commandment for His followers to go and preach the gospel to all people.
Not everyone is in poverty, but some people need a helping hand. We may have a resource or financial means that can assist them now while they work to pay us back. The paying back part is where some of us give pause. How can we know that this person will return the favor and the loan we give? This requires a level of trust in the other person, but what if we don't always know for sure that person will pay us back? Should we only trust those who we know for certain are trustworthy?
Christ says to offer trust. When we give a loan to a person, we are giving them an opportunity. They have the chance to prove themselves trustworthy. Imagine the confidence that brings when they not only get on their feet or get going in their venture, but they also are able to repay the favor. I know whenever I've needed some assistance and was able to pay back what was given, I felt more relieved and gratified to pay back the loan than I did to accomplish what the loan was for.
Loaning isn't just in the physical, though. What if a young person wants to borrow our talents to help them teach a Bible Study or play an instrument while they lead a prayer group? The message being sent is that I trust that the time I give you is worth it because you are trying to build the Kingdom of God. What if we were to borrow the talents of the youth to help us in our endeavors? This time we are telling them they have a place in the Kingdom and they matter.
In a spiritual matter of lending or giving, it's not us or the other party that does the paying back, but it is God. He looks down with a smile on our willingness to share talents and spiritual blessings such as prayer and fasting. He sees our good deeds and is ready to open up the windows of heaven to bless us when we lend ourselves to His Kingdom:
The generous will themselves be blessed, (Proverbs 22:9)
What an awesome God.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.