Today is Blog Action Day 2008. Thousands of bloggers are focusing on the issue of poverty from many different angles perspectives.
In this post, I want to highlight a few words from the Scriptures that indicate that helping the poor was a core value in the first century church (the decades following the death and resurrection of Jesus). Here are some parts that illustrate the value of helping those in need …
Tabitha (a.k.a. Dorcas) “was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor (Acts 9.36).
In Acts 10, a Roman army officer named Cornelius was described as “a devout, God-fearing man,” who “gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God.” The fact that Cornelius helped the poor was repeated by the angel who visited him: “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering!”
Paul, a leader in the first century church, wrote in a letter to a group of Christ-followers in Rome, noting that another group of Christ-followers had “eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem” (Romans 15.25-26).
Paul started out as an enemy of the church, but after an encounter with God, He became a leader in the new Jesus movement. Upon receiving approval from other church leaders to spread the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world, Paul mentions that “their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor,” which Paul stated that he was always “eager to do” (Galatians 2.9-10).
And there was good reason that helping the poor was a core value in the first century church. Jesus went so far as to say that how we treat those in need is how we treat Jesus, himself. Jesus said …
I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.
Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (see Matthew 25.35-40).
These are just a few of the many Scriptures that demonstrate God’s (and people’s) heart for the poor. Today, there are some organizations that are leading the way in mobilizing people to help the poor. Here are some causes we support …
We designate a certain percentage of our income that we give to our churches. We set aside another percentage of our income that we give toward special ministry efforts. In addition to the causes we’ve written about before, another favorite is Heifer International.
Helping the poor was a core value in the first century church. Nearly 2,000 years later, it must still be a core value for Christ-followers!