How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (1 John 3:17-18)
God continually showers us with complete, unconditional love. Jesus commands that we share that same love, grace and mercy with all people. Because of our sinful, sometimes selfish nature, we often do not do a good job of sharing and caring for one another, especially to those who are considered by society as “outcasts” - the homeless, the poor, the alien, the stranger, the other. As followers of Jesus, though, we are commanded to share what we have. This includes not only the Good News of Jesus Christ, but our material goods as well.
The Old Testament gives us some clear direction on how we are to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls and love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus and his followers knew the Hebrew Scriptures and took them to heart. When Jesus exhorted his followers to love and serve one another and to remember that whatever you do to the least of these you have done unto him, they would have heard Jesus’ words in light of their understanding of the Old Testament commands about taking care of the “other” – the poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien, the stranger. In doing so, the Lord Our God, promises not only to bless the poor and oppressed, but those who uplift and care for them.
Here, I think, I’ll let the Scriptures speak for themselves:
- You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:10)
- When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien. (Leviticus 23:22)
- For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)
- If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. (Deut. 15:7-8)
- Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice. (Deuteronomy 27:19)
- For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever. (Psalm 9:18)
- Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him. (Proverbs 21:13)
- Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but one who turns a blind eye will get many a curse. (Proverbs 28:27)
- If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10)
Lord God, giver of all good things, source of all that is, was and ever will be, praise be to you, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for it is you that blesses each and every one of us with all that we are and all that we have. Fill our hearts with the desire to honor you through loving the other. Amen.
In His Love,
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