Tag Archives: the least of these

Lending To The Lord


One of the cool things I got to do this year was to be a part of YWAM’s Houston Street Church. After we set up all the chairs, the homeless and street walkers started showing up. They were fed a meal and then given a church service. There was a booth set up called Kuts for Christ. They offered free hair cuts in exchange for the ability to pray for them. After the service, those still in attendance were able to stop by some tables and pick out some clothes. Every bit of it was free and designed to help this team build relationships to win them to Christ. 

As I drove away that night, I couldn’t help but reflect on what I had just witnessed and been a part of. I saw society’s outcasts waiting to hug the couple that leads this church. I saw them lining up almost two hours before the event to get help physically and spiritually. I watched a team of volunteers and full time mission workers org together to do something special for people the rest of us look away from. I witnessed ministry taking place in an unexpected place.

It reminded me of Proverbs 19:17 that says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord- and He will repay you!” (NLT) I know that these ministers aren’t doing this to get paid back by the Lord. They’re doing it as an expression of love. When I saw their faces light up as much as the people on the street, I knew this was more than a feeding and clothing program. Real relationships had been built. Real help was being given. Real ministry was being done.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that there’s always someone who has it worse than me. No matter what financial, emotional or physical state I’m in, I have the ability to help others less fortunate. In Matthew 25, Jesus said that when we do things for the poor and outcasts, we’ve done it to Him. The least of these are all around us every day. Take some time to look for them instead of away from them, and do something to help them. It doesn’t matter what they do with your help as long as you’re doing it unto the Lord. 

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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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Debt Forgiveness 


“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back.” “You fly, I’ll buy.” “Quid pro quo.” “You buy this time, I’ll buy next time.” Ever used any of these expressions? Of course you have. We all do favors for favors. It’s an offer to help in exchange for help. You’ll give them what they want if they’ll give you what you want. Everybody wins. We all play the game, but what we forget is that Jesus changed the rules on it. He expects us to do for others who have no ability to pay us back. 

You see, there’s no reward in doing something for others who can pay you back. It’s not really a favor if you get a return favor. Part of our Christian DNA should be to do for others who can’t pay us back. It should be a part of who we are and be a regular thing we do. When Jesus was describing who got into Heaven, this is what He said in Matthew 25-35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me” (AMPC).

In all of these examples, it was about helping someone out who couldn’t return the favor. He went on to say that when you do something for the least among us, you’ve done it to Him. There’s no reward in helping those who can pay you back. Of course, you can still help your friends out in a quid pro quo fashion, but you can’t just do that and expect to be rewarded for doing good. You got your reward when they paid you back. The life Jesus is calling us to is doing things for those who can’t pay you back.

In Luke 14:13, Jesus said it another way. He said, “But when you give a banquet or a reception, invite the poor, the disabled, the lame, and the blind.” He mentioned several times in the Gospels that we were to give to those who couldn’t pay us back. When you think about it, Jesus did that for us. He set the example of giving at a high cost for those who couldn’t pay Him back. If you’ve accepted Him as your savior, then He paid your debt for sin in full. There’s no way to repay Him for that. The best thing we can do is to follow His example. Give to those who can’t repay you, and don’t hold it over their head.

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Are We Goats Thinking We’re Sheep?

I’ve got Haiti on my heart this morning. Partly because I’m headed back in a few months and partly because we watched a video from Richard Stearns from World Vision last night. He reminded us of the scripture in Matthew 25:35-40 where Jesus told of the day where God will separate the sheep from the goats. Jesus said that He will turn to the sheep and say, “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (MSG)”

What stood out to me last night as he read that scripture was the response of the sheep. They said, “Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (MSG)”. They didn’t even realize it was Jesus they were doing it to. They were doing those things because God’s love compelled them to.

That’s a stark contrast from where the Church is today. The Barna Group released the results of a study yesterday. They interviewed over 700 self-professed Christians and asked a series of 20 questions about attitudes and actions. In the end, only 14% of self-professed Christians were found to have the attitudes and actions of Jesus. Another 14% had the actions of Jesus, but not His attitude. The results show a lot more and if you like, you can see it here.

If we add those numbers together, barely a quarter of Christians act like Jesus. He spent His time in ministry to the poor, the hurting, the outcasts, the leppers and the unwanted. He spent very little time with those who were looking for power and prestige. He made it clear that He wanted us to do the same. You can see that in what He said in Matthew 25. The ones who made it to Heaven were those who fed the hungry, gave drinks to the thirsty, sheltered the homeless, gave clothes to the poor and visited those who were sick or in prison. When is the last time we’ve done any of those things?

We’ve spent millions building bigger, more stylish churches and only thousands on taking care of the poor. I look at those results of the Barna group and ask myself, “What area do I fall in? Do I have both the attitudes and actions of Jesus? Am I in the 28% or in the other 72%?” Those are tough questions that God and I are going to work through. I encourage you to ask the same questions. If you’re not in the 28%, what can you start doing today to move in that direction? How can you be one of the sheep instead of a goat?

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