Our hearts expressed with love toward the poor is the heart of God active in the world. God sees your heart, and when you lend to him through the kindness to the needy, you give to Jesus directly. What is your relationship to those who are poor and needy today?
4 Wealth attracts many friends,
but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.
6 Many curry favor with a ruler,
and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.
7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives—
how much more do their friends avoid them!
Though the poor pursue them with pleading,
they are nowhere to be found.
17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
Proverbs 19:4, 6-7, 17
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
This is a sad reality of our world, isn’t it? People who have the riches and the toys and who are willing to share attract friends and hangers-on. That’s really what they are. Hangers-on. People hang on while the champagne flows and then when it dries up, they move on.
Friendship like this is measures about an inch deep. The poor are deserted by these hanger-friends in favour of someone else who is giving gifts, as we see is verse 6. Or people move to where there is power. And take note, often power moves with money and vice versa. So we will expect to see many friends with the ruler of the day, and a much smaller entourage with the one voted out of power and authority.
A-list to D-list. Delisted. Off the map. The poor can get to a place in which they are even shunned by their own relatives. We might look down our noses at this, yet when we look really closely at the relationship, we might find that the person who becomes so poor that they lose their home also has some other factors at play.
Mental illness, addictions, unpredictable behaviours, and other issues may be the cause or may be caused by the realities of financial difficulty. It can get so bad that even families walk away.
I have heard children say about their parents, “Don’t call me. I won’t help and I don’t want to hear what’s going on.’ And parents get to the point where they say, “I’ve tried everything and I don’t know what to do. I have to cut off ties to protect what I have left.” These are real feelings and difficult intersections of life.
You may not be able to help if you are in the middle of the storm itself. Yet if you are on the outside you might do like me and stand back. That’s too messy. Do you really want to get caught up in that? Hear from the Lord:
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord. When you express that kindness toward someone in that situation, you are doing it for Jesus. He is the recipient. And our hearts expressed with love toward the poor is the heart of God active in the world…
I was driving a guy to the bus stop the other week after church, and he said something profound to me. Don’t get me wrong or nominate me for sainthood, now. It was just a ride to the bus. Anyway, my friend said, “I don’t understand why people at this church are so nice to me. I have never experienced this kindness from people who didn’t have an ulterior motive…”
Yup. Kindness often comes from ulterior motives. Unless you are lending to the Lord. God sees your heart, and when you lend to him through the kindness to the needy, you give to Jesus. And it’s actually a surprising blessing to the recipient, because unfortunately, lending to the Lord is a rare thing today…