When it comes to helping others, our natural tendency is to look at what state we’re currently in. If I’m having trouble making ends meet, how can I possibly extend a hand to another? The problem with this line of thinking, at least for a Christian, is it excludes God. If this is the way I’m thinking, I’m only looking at what I’m capable of doing. I’m not looking at what God wants to do. As a result, I may miss opportunities to help another because I’m too focused on myself and not focused enough on God. That’s why God tells us to live generously. He wants us to help those around us who have genuine needs. If your buddy needs a few extra bucks to buy a muscle car, that’s not a need. But if a family you met at the grocery store is having trouble affording groceries (and you can tell by the choices they make) or that kid down the street doesn’t have a winter coat, those are. We’re to meet them.
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ – Deuteronomy 15:7-11, ESV
We aren’t to harden our hearts. We aren’t to close our hands. Rather, we are to give freely to a brother in need, what the ESV calls a poor brother. The natural human response in times of hardship is to hoard and protect. There is little to go around so we hold on to what we can. Yet God says to do the opposite. He is saying we are to be generous, even when the world says we can’t afford to be. Why does He ask us to be this way? He asks us because of a promise He gives us: He will bless us in all our work and in all that we undertake. In other words, God is saying, “If you take care of others soft-heartedly and unconditionally, I’m going to make sure you’re taken care of, too.”
Now He didn’t say He would give us our wildest dreams. He didn’t say that we’ll go from clipping coupons to laying out on a beach in Bermuda. He simply said He would bless us. He will take care of us. And He defines how that happens and by what method. I’ve seen folks take this set of passages and say, “If you give a little, God is going to give a lot,” and mean money. That’s not what this passage says. God is going to bless us. Unconditional favor isn’t limited by money. Sometimes, often times, we need other things more than we need money. So we can count on the promise that He will bless us.
He doesn’t promise we’ll become filthy rich and live a life of luxury for the rest of our days. But He promises that He’ll meet our needs. That means He’ll take care of the difference. If the Holy Spirit leads us to give sacrificially, we can take heart in the fact that God notices and that He has a way to make up for what we’re lacking. Yes, it requires an enormous leap of faith, especially when we’re struggling, but that’s when God will come through the most. Sometimes He’ll give us a miracle that is what the world thinks of when we say miracle: something that is beyond explanation. Other times He’ll have a Christian brother or sister follow through on the same set of verses and we are the poor brother that is helped. Don’t be surprised by either one. Count on the promise. The fact of the matter is if God is asking us to help someone in need, we must put aside any thought of our current state and instead focus on the person we’ve been called to help. We’re to give generously and to count on God to fulfill His promise. In the next couple of days we’ll look at examples of folks who did just that and how they were floored by God coming through for them. Trust Him. He won’t let you down.