Monday, June 30, 2014

Christian Response to Poor and Needy - PM

God is concerned about man's material life and needs.  (physical well being, financial state, etc.)
hence, are many verses instructing us to assist the poor and needy  (concordance search brings up hundreds of references)

"Poor" is a relative term.  - USA Poverty level 2014 - family of 4 - $23,850, family of 5 - $27,910

We are called to identify and assist!

4 Groups of Poor Identified in Scripture!

#1.  Poor due to calamity (disaster, disease, disability) - example:  "widows and orphans" - great depression
  - through no fault of their own
  - presently incapable of supporting self

#2.  Poor due to Oppression - ( exploitation, abuse)
example:  slaves, exploited workers
Also no fault and unable to correct situation.

#3.  Poor because of sloth/laziness (indifference)
Prov. 10:4, 20:13

#4.  Poor for Righteousness' sake. - forfeited wealth and/or opportunity to serve God and man.
example:  Apostles/missionaries, etc.

Add 2 more:

#5.  Poor due to financial ignorance - maybe incompetence, maybe indifference

#6.  Poor due to long term (continual) mismanagement.
examples:  21st .Century Americans, lottery winner stats:  70% of big winners broke within 5 years.  Bigger the amount, more likely are to file bankruptcy
Prov. 21:17, 23:20-21 - continual lifestyle

Christian Response??? (not the same in every situation) to...........
#1.  Calamity/disaster?  = aid and assist - Lev. 25:35-37 - examples:  field corners left, no 2nd. picking, every 7th year = fallow year.
Matt. 25:37-40 - we have obligation to help.

#2.  Oppression/exploitation?  = aid financially, aid politically, judicially, etc.  Don't deny assistance because poor.
Deut. 24:14-15
Ex. 23:6
Prov. 14:31, 31:8-9

#3.  Righteousness' sake? - support them in their ministry  without expecting to change the situation.  (they have chosen the situation) - Matt. 10:41-42

#4.  Sloth and laziness?  2 Thess. 3:6, 10-15 - don't encourage this behavior

#5.  Financially ignorant? 
- assist if incompetent - that can't be helped
- educate if competent - BUT if indifferent - see #4.

#6.  Continual mismanagement - if because of incompetence, see #5.  If because of indifference - #4

Ongoing dilemma. 
A consideration on dealing with the continually poor and needy:

example:  Book entitled "When Helping Hurts" -

Response = Relief - Rehabilitation - Development

When in a bad situation, no matter what reason, give relief, then try to restore to original state (rehabilitation) and then try to bring to the next level (development).

BUT, helping the poor requires more than $$$.  Self-esteem, self-worth, depression, etc. Many other issues to deal with.

Age old issue:  who to help?  How?  When?  How often??
While it's not always easy to answer, we are obligated to help, and God will bless us in our efforts.
Isa. 58:5-12

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