Helping the Poor

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

When asked about the greatest commandment in God’s teachings and instructions, Jesus responded that the first—the mighty, mega-commandment—was to love God with your very being—the center of you, with all of your emotions and understanding. The second commandment was “like unto it,” which meant that it was not inferior to the first. Loving your neighbor as yourself is just as important as loving God.  The poor are extraordinarily close to the heart of God, and if you call yourself a man or woman of God, you need to care about the poor as much as He does. Your response to the poor of God’s creation has a lot to do with how God is able to respond to you. To love God and love His creation with everything you have, you must take all of Scripture into account.  From the beginning to the end of God’s Word, God speaks about the poor; there are almost 200 Scripture references on this topic. Let’s look at some scripture that reveals God’s heart for the poor.

Psalm 41:1 - Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. Because you are the blessed, God requires you to reach back and help somebody else. If you consider the poor, the Lord will deliver you in days of evil.  He will preserve you and keep you alive, and He will bless you. If you only think about giving to yourself and to those who are related to you, you will be vulnerable when your times of trouble comes.

1 John 3:16-18 - Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. If you have been loving God and loving your neighbor with all of your heart, mind and soul by responding to those in need, then you will know that God is pleased with you and thus have boldness and assurance when you go to Him. You will know that He not only will hear your prayer, but also grant your requests that are in line with His will.

Matthew 25:34-36 - Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Jesus is very serious about how you respond to the poor. In essence, Jesus says, “By taking care of the poor, you took care of me.”

Isaiah 58:6-7 - Is not this the fast that I have chosen….to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? In these verses, God reveals the kind of fast that pleases him. When you follow the fast God has chosen, you will walk in light and in health, and your righteousness will go before you. God will also hear and answer you when you call.

Proverbs 19:17 - He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again. The word for “pity” means to stoop in kindness. In other words, God says, “If you help the poor, you are helping me and I won’t forget it. I will give it back to you.”

Proverbs 14:21 - It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy. Suppose the person is poor because they deserve to be poor? Apply mercy. There’s a big difference between mercy and justice. Justice is when you get what is coming to you. Mercy is when you get a pass.

Proverbs 31:9 - Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. In other words, don’t just sit by and watch poor people being abused. Get involved. Open your mouth, and plead their case. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their lifestyle or ways, but it does mean that God’s heart is for people who are poor. He always wants the poor helped.

Proverbs 29:7 - The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it. The wicked close their eyes and pay no attention to the poor. God wants you to help the poor, and in my churches we do so a lot of different ways, and not all of them involve money. I personally write checks to places that take care of poor people, even if there is no preaching ministry involved.
 
Proverbs 21:13 - Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. I need God to hear my prayer! One way I ensure that is by responding to the cries of the poor.

The Lord Will Fill Your Cupboards!

Pastor Deborah and I were just newly married and living in a duplex that my parents owned. We got married on love and didn’t have any money (I don’t recommend marrying without money), and soon after we both lost our jobs through no fault of our own. We looked prosperous because we still had nice clothes and a car, but we were broke. I sure wasn’t telling my parents or Deborah’s father and her nine brothers that I didn’t have any money!

I sang bass and preached in a group that ministered downtown, and one night after I finished preaching, a homeless woman came up to me and said, “Sir, I have no food and two children. Will you give me some money for something to eat?” I had all of our money—$30—in my front pocket! I heard the voice of God inside me say, “Give her $20.” I preached to her, prayed the prayer of salvation with her, and gave her the money, then went home and told my wife the story. We both praised God for the privilege and opportunity to bless her.

Days went by, and nothing happened until finally all we had left in the house was a jar of water. My parents had given us a new couch for our wedding, and we were sitting on this looking at each other when a knock came at the door. I opened it, and a man from the church we attended walked in, asked for directions to the kitchen, and walked through our house with a bag of groceries in his arms. His wife followed with another bag.

Being the son of a man who worked eighteen hours a day seven days a week, a man who wouldn’t take public welfare and wouldn’t take money from anyone else—and not having any greater understanding at the time—I said, “Now brother, I don’t know how you knew we were in this situation because we haven’t told anybody, but we can’t take this charity.”

He said, “The Lord told me about it, and the Lord told me to bring this to you.” I couldn’t say anything to that. I sat down on the couch, and he and his wife unloaded their station wagon, filling our cupboards, our floors, and our counters. He shook my hand on the way out, slipping me an envelope that had two weeks salary in it. Two weeks later, I got another job. It’s true that if you give to the poor, you lend to the Lord! God gave me back my $20 gift to that homeless woman with interest!

Listen to the Heartbeat of God

It is not your place to make a judgment as to why people are in the situation they are in. If they are poor and God has blessed you with means to clothe them, feed them, and minister to them, don’t be the judge and jury. God’s heartbeat is for those that have need in every area. If you are a true believer, the way out of your situation is not to look in, but to look out. Find a hurt and fill it. Find a need and meet it. When you do, God will bless you. Be the Christian who loves God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind; be the Christian who loves your neighbor as yourself.

This article is written by Bishop Keith A. Butler

Bishop Keith A. Butler is the Founder of Word of Faith International Christian Center.
Word of Faith International Christian Center was founded on January 14, 1979 and has a congregation of over 11,000 members and over 150 employees. The main church is located on a beautiful 110-acre campus in Southfield, Michigan, where multiple services are held in the 5,000-seat auditorium. Bishop Butler pastors churches in Round Rock, and Dallas, TX. He also oversees 14 operations in the United States and international operations in Canada, England, Bulgaria and Africa.
With the support of his lovely wife, Pastor Deborah L. Butler, and their children: Pastor Keith A. Butler II, his wife Minister Tiffany Butler (grand-daughters Alexis, Angela and April) Pastor MiChelle A. Butler and Minister Kristina M. Butler, Bishop Butler continues to plant churches worldwide. He Ministers extensively in churches, conferences and seminars throughout the U.S. and abroad, with an emphasis on instruction, line-upon-line teaching and a no-nonsense practical application of God's Word. Bishop Butler is also the author of more than a dozen books.