Tag Archives: help the poor

The Poor Prodigal


We all know the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, and we’ve heard many sermons on it. But what if there’s more to the story that we’ve missed? What if it’s not just about a lost soul returning home? I believe it could also be about how we care for the poor as believers. Take a look at verses 16-17. “The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!” (NLT)

There was no one in the land he was living in who gave him anything when he was in need. So he left that area. He remembered how his father cared for the poor. He thought that even if he wasn’t his father’s son anymore, that his father would have compassion on him because he was poor. So he returned. In looking for compassion, he found salvation. There’s a lesson there for us as believers. When we care for the poor, they’ll find salvation. 

Here are some verses on caring for the poor.

1. Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.
Proverbs 14:31 NLT

2. Jesus answered him, “If you wish to be perfect [that is, have the spiritual maturity that accompanies godly character with no moral or ethical deficiencies], go and sell what you have and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk].”
MATTHEW 19:21 AMP

3. Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans; be fair to the needy and the helpless. Rescue them from the power of evil people.
Psalm 82:3-4 GNT

4. Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry; shut your eyes to their needs, and run a gauntlet of curses.
Proverbs 28:27 MSG

5. Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
Proverbs 21:13 NLT

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Caring For The Poor


One of the things God wants each of us to do is to help those who are less fortunate. You don’t have to go to a third world country to help poor people either. Every country and community has people who need help, but what can we do about it if the problem is so great? I like what Andy Stanley says: Do for one, what you wish you could do for every one. Don’t let what you can’t do keep you from what you can do. You don’t have to single handedly make a dent in poverty, but you can make a difference in one person’s life. 

Too often we look at the whole instead of the individual. We get overwhelmed and think there’s nothing we can do, but that’s not true. You can make a difference in one person’s life. You can help them find a better paying job, you can pay for their groceries, you can watch their kids while they job hunt, you can offer some extra cash,, etc. God’s heart is to care for the poor, and if it’s important to Him, it should be important to us.

Here are some verses that show God’s concern for the poor.

1. When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 19:9-10 NLT

2. Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans; be fair to the needy and the helpless.
Psalm 82:3 GNT

3. For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hands to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor in your land.
Deuteronomy 15:11 AMPC

4. Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”
Mark 10:21 MSG

5. Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
Matthew 25:37-40 NLT

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Run To The Poor


One of the most well known parables of Jesus comes from Luke 15:11-32. It’s the story of the Prodigal Son. Before you quit reading, I want to look at this story a little differently than before. As you know, he took his inheritance early, moved away, and wasted it on wild living and prostitutes. In verse 16, he was so broke and hungry that he had to feed pigs and even their slop looked appealing to him. The end of that verse tells us everything: “But no one gave him anything” (NLT).

Here’s a guy, who when he had money, was throwing it around. He was surrounded by people who enjoyed him buying their drinks, paying for their meals, and throwing parties they would attend. When he was broke, hungry, and homeless, those people were nowhere to be found. Why? Because we despise people who are poor. We enjoy being around people who have money and are generous with it, but we tend to hide from the poor, especially if we know them.

Think about it. Even his own brother despised him because he was poor. In verse 28, it says, “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in.” When his father asked why, part of his excuse was that his brother had squandered his money. When the chips are down, sometimes even your family avoids you. Most of us have been at this point in our lives. Broke. Hungry. Hurting. What happened? As the country song by Tracy Lawrence goes, “You find out who your friends are.”

Proverbs 14:20-21 rejects the kind of behavior that runs to the rich and hides from the poor. It says, “The poor are despised even by their neighbors, while the rich have many ‘friends.’ It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.” To me, the parable of the Prodigal Son is as much about us running to the poor as it is about our Father running to us when we confess our sins. If you know someone who’s had a bad turn of events, quit avoiding them, and find a way to run to them in their time of need.

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Our Mission

We live in a dog eat dog world. Most people are only out for themselves. When I was younger, you didn’t pass someone on the shoulder who had a flat tire. You pulled over and offered help. Now, we say, “They have a cell phone. I’m sure they’ll call someone for help if they need it.” We don’t give them a second thought because we are going somewhere and we don’t have time to be inconvenienced by someone else’s problem. That’s a spiritual problem that has bled over into our physical world.

  
The Church was founded and built upon helping those in need. It was a beacon on a hill because it was different. It was a group of people whose mission was to serve and help those who were broken down on the Road of Life. The Church fed the hungry. They clothed the poor. The people brought their extra money and possessions to the church with the intent of helping the whole community. When the Church did that, it grew by the thousands daily.

Now, the Church spends its money on many things and has lost its mission. Look at a giving envelope. Very few churches still have a line item for alms and even fewer people give towards it. I believe it’s the number one cause for the lack of explosive growth in the Church today. We have ceased to be a communal organization and have become more like an exclusive club you can belong to. We accept people who look right, act right, and live right. We’ve forgotten our mission to help the broken and hurting.

The military’s phrase, “Leave no man behind,” should be the Church’s mission statement. If we want to reach thousands, we have to get back to that communal place where our purpose and mission is helping others wherever and however they are broken down. It’s not our pastor’s responsibility to make that happen either, it’s ours individually. You can’t read the New Testament as if it was written to pastors, leaders, or even an individual. It was written to each of us as a community of believers.

In Ephesians 6:18, right after Paul tells us to put on God’s Armor, he tells us, “Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out” (MSG). That is written to you and me as individuals in the body. The burden is on us to heal the broken by loving them, to give to those less fortunate to help them along, to support those who are struggling in life, and to encourage those who are down. If each of us will do our part, we will revive not only the Church, but our nation and world.

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