Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Serving the Poor #2: What's Best?

Yesterday, I posted about Matthew 6:1-4. Serving not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify God. Serving for an audience of One.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

It is clear throughout scripture that God cares about the poor,the needy, the helpless, and the oppressed. And He wants us to care about them too. I've been wrestling through The Sermon on the Mount and Isaiah 58 and seeking the LORD on how He wants me to serve.

I've been asking:
LORD, who are the poor?
LORD, how would have me serve them?
LORD, where I can live off of less to give away more?

We often think of the poor as materially poor. Thanks to these books, my thinking has been reframed, renewed, and challenged as to "who are the poor" and how we can best help them be reconciled to God and live the life He wants for them.

"Compassion, Justice, and The Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor" by Robert D. Lupton

"When Helping Hurts" by Brian Fikkert & Steve Corebett

What the "needy" need most is Christ. What we should be giving to them along with "stuff" is dignity. We should be offering relationship before we offer money. Though some literally have physical need, many need opportunity ... to work, to be loved, to hear the hope of Christ, and respond.

These books have helped me see that sometimes our "good" intentions actually get in the way of helping and doing what's "best". Robert Lupton says something along the lines of "sometimes doing good gets in the way of doing what's best."

I'm learning that the poor don't need stuff, they need dignity.
They don't need programs, they need relationships.
They don't need hand outs, they need a hand up (thank you No Name Fellowship for this phrase).
They don't need charity, they need opportunity.

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