We live in a socioeconomic divided world. There are the “haves”, the “have-nots” and the “have-in-betweens.” Your status, in regards to wealth, can determine how much influence you have, how much access you have to important people, and how many things you can buy for yourself. It is a measure of your success, power and importance. You are somebody if you have money, and you are nobody if you have none. At least that is how most of the world sees it.
So we have this financial asset disparity present in our world, yet we all, rich and poor alike, have to share the same space. We only have one earth. With that being the case, unless NASA (or Sir Richard Branson) decides to start a colony on the moon where only the rich will be able to afford the space ride, we are stuck with one another. That means we will have to figure out how to coexist peaceably, figure out how to treat one another, and figure out what our responsibilities are to those who have more or less than we do. And we already have seen how hard relationships can be.
The Bible’s Take on Giving to the Needy
The Bible weighs in often on how the rich should treat the poor. Perhaps no verse better sums it up than Deuteronomy 15:7-10 which reads:
“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks…You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”
These were God’s instructions to the nation of Israel regarding the poor who lived within the land. God obviously wanted those with more to help them.
Although this was spoken to the Israelites, the applications found within this verse are still relevant to us today. Consider:
1. We should not turn a blind eye (“harden your heart”) to their need. Interesting that God first confronts the inner attitude towards giving. How many times have you walked by a beggar on the street and not given them a few dollars because you were repulsed by their appearance or condition? Or maybe you heard of a need but because that person had some other issue or character flaw, your heart was immediately hardened to helping them. You didn’t even consider or pray about it. Count me guilty.
2. After dealing with the inner attitude, God gives us an action item – a command – open your hand and give to those in need. And how are we to give?
- Freely, of our own good will. No one should force us into giving.
- Generously, to sufficiently meet their need. No half-way giving.
- Cheerfully. It should not grieve our heart to do this act.
3. The blessings of God are upon those who choose to follow His command.
The poor will always be with us. We need to be sensitive to their need and give generously to help them when we can.
But I think there is something deeper here – an attitude that we need to overcome if we are going to have real success with our personal finances. I’ll cover that in my next post.
Prior Post: Why to Develop a Strategic Plan