Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Proverbs 31:20 commentary; the church and the poor

20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

I don’t think there is any question of what the church’s position should be toward the poor either in the church or in the world. I used to belong to a church that had a Deacon’s Pantry full of canned food and other items for the benefit of emergency help when called upon. They also had an account at a local grocery store for trusted church members who were going through rough times. I can remember loading up an employee at the warehouse where I worked with food for her and her children after her husband had left her and cleaned out their bank account.

The church is called to do good works to all people, but especially to the members of the church.....

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Notice the direction of this verse. The church doesn’t wait for the poor to come to her. She reaches out to them; to the poor and needy. In other words, the church looks for opportunities for service. The church goes to where the poor are. Obviously, there is little need to help people who are receiving help from the government. But, there are many elderly people struggling to survive who often have to choose between much needed medicine or food. We should be reaching out to them. There are two conditions for help within the church. One is that if a person has a family in the church they should be the ones helping them first.

1Timothy 5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed..

The person in need must be willing to work when work is available.

2Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat..

This verse can also have a spiritual application toward the church reaching out to the spiritually hungry. Remember the Sermon on the Mount admonition in Matthew 5:3?.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. .

Now reach back into Isaiah.

Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. .

Now further back into the Psalms.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. .

It is also these poor whom the church must reach out her hands to, those whose spirits are broken, whose hearts are weeping, who are ready to receive Christ and be saved. The church feeds the hungry in body and the hungry in spirit. Or the church might just be a social club or a political action committee. If the latter is all it is then it is not a church modeled on God’s standards.

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