Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Proverbs 22:9 commentary; Bread to the poor

9 ¶ He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

Proverbs 21:13 ¶ Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

God requires Christians to give liberally of their money to help and to feed the poor, particularly the poor in the church.

Romans 15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

Throughout the ages of Christianity there have always been groups who would dissent from the established norm and form churches that they pronounced more fit the New Testament model. The Puritans of the Church of England and many modern Fundamental Baptist churches claim that they are New Testament Churches. But, are they? It is clear by a careful reading of the historical book of Acts and Paul’s letters as well as history itself that the New Testament churches did not surrender their poor to government programs or state sponsored support, of which there was very little.

The early Christian church not only took care of its own poor and the poor of other churches but also of the pagan poor around them that came to them for help. This caused consternation among the Romans due to the shame it heaped on them for not taking care of the poor outside of distributing bread to get political support or to limit social unrest. The modern church doesn’t care to look into the immediate and personal needs of its members as the assumption is there will be some state program they can take advantage of to help.

Looking back into the most early church and forward again into the Tribulation to come the book of James says in the famous passage about putting your money where your mouth is, the ‘faith without works is dead’ passage;

James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Charity, which one Biblical definition is the active and tangible way that brotherly love in the Christian church is to be expressed;

2Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Is a very fundamental way of manifesting the command that Jesus gave to His disciples;

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

So much so that charity is listed as of more importance than faith and hope.

1Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Voluntary aid to those who are truly poor, willing to work, but unable to sustain themselves, is fundamental to the Christian faith. The church does not have to support you if you have family that can do so in the church, or if you have the capacity to support yourself but by your own choices won’t, or if your need is really just your refusal to give up material possessions in order to meet the circumstances in which you find yourself. But, if there is someone truly in need a Christian must do what is within their power to help, particularly within their own family or church.

It would be interesting to see how many of those people who blast tax supported programs to aid the poor actually give a significant portion of their disposable income to help the poor in Christ’s name just as it would to see how many who oppose abortion would consider adopting an unwanted child. We are notorious for doing what James lamented; for writing a check with our tongues that our hearts aren’t willing to cash.

God promises to bless those Hebrews who gave bountifully, not sparingly, but bountifully to those in less favorable circumstances than themselves. Would you think that He would do any less for Christians?

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