1. The early Christians demonstrated great liberality toward the poor,
a. The church at Jerusalem - Ac 2:44-45; 4:34-37
b. The church at Antioch - Ac 11:27-30
c. The churches of Macedonia - 2 Co 8:1-4
2. Paul in particular was engaged in helping poor Christians...
a. He was asked to remember the poor - Ga 2:9-10
b. He instructed churches on how to take up a collection - 1 Co 16:
c. He accompanied such a collection to the needy saints in Jerusalem
- Ro 15:25-26
-- It can truly be said that the early church did "remember the poor"
3. Today, some are more likely to revile the poor than remember them...
a. If someone is poor asking for help, they are assumed to be lazy
b. If inclined to help, the poor are expected to earn what they are
4. Yet God has chosen to bless the poor...
a. In the words of Jesus - Lk 6:20
b. In the words of James - Ja 2:5
[Therefore a Biblical study on the subject of the poor and poverty can
be beneficial, lest we fall short in our duty to "remember the poor".
Let's start with...]
I. UNDERSTANDING THE POOR AND POVERTY
A. THOSE WHO ARE POOR...
1. Includes those who may have absolutely nothing, or very little
- cf. Mk 12:41-44
2. Also those who have enough to offer meager sacrifices - cf. Lev
-- One does not have to be completely destitute to be considered
B. CAUSES OF POVERTY...
1. Sometimes it is due to sinful actions on the part of the
a. Laziness - Pro 6:6-11
b. Refusing to heed correction - Pro 13:18
c. Pleasure seeking - Pro 21:17
d. Drunkenness, gluttony - Pro 23:21
2. Other times it is due to sinful actions of other men
a. Usury and extortion - Pro 28:8
b. Greed - Isa 3:14-15
c. Unfair labor practices - Jer 22:13
d. Oppression - Amo 4:1
e. Persecution - 2 Co 8:1-2; He 10:32-34
3. It can also be due to natural disasters
a. Plague, economic depression, war
b. Hurricane, earthquake, tsunami
4. It may be due to God's chastisement
a. As was the case in Haggai's day - Hag 1:5-11
b. Again in the days of Malachi - Mal 3:8-12
5. It can be due to voluntary choice
a. As in the case of Jesus - Lk 9:57-58
b. As in the case of His apostles - Mk 10:28; 2 Co 6:10
-- One cannot assume that poverty is due to laziness or wickedness
[Poverty has many causes, and both Moses and Jesus taught the poor would
be with us (Deu 15:11; Mt 26:11). God hears the cries of the poor (Psa
69:33), and it is interesting to note how He made provision for them in
both the Old and New Testament...]
II. PROVISION FOR THE POOR IN THE LAW
A. AS CHARGED BY MOSES...
1. The poor were not to be charged interest - Exo 22:25; Lev 25:
2. The fruit of fallow ground during the seventh year was for the
poor - Exo 23:10-11
3. They were allowed to glean the fields after the harvest - Lev
19:9-10; Deu 24:19-22
4. They could satisfy their hunger in the vineyards and grain
fields- Deu 23:24-25; Lk 6:1
5. The tithe for the third year was reserved for special groups of
the poor - Deu 14:28-29
6. Debts were to be canceled every seven years - Deu 15:1-4
7. Hebrew slaves had to be set free after six years - Deu 15:12-15
-- Israel was charged to be careful in their attitude toward the
poor - Deu 15:7-11
B. AS COUNSELED BY SOLOMON...
1. Happy is the one who shows mercy to the poor - Pro 14:21
2. He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker - Pro 14:31
3. He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker - Pro 17:5
4. He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord who will pay him
back - Pro 19:17
5. Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor, will cry and
not be heard - Pro 21:13
6. The person with a generous eye will be blessed, having given to
the poor - Pro 22:9
7. He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his
eyes will have many curses - Pro 28:27
8. The virtuous woman extends her hand to the poor, and reaches
her hands out to the needy - Pro 31:20
-- Such concern for the poor is a mark of righteousness and
wisdom - Pro 29:7
[If the Law of Moses displayed such concern and provision for the poor,
we should not be surprised to find a similar concern and provision in
the gospel of Christ...]
III. PROVISION FOR THE POOR IN THE GOSPEL
A. AS COMMANDED BY JESUS...
1. In His sermon on the mount - Mt 5:42
2. In His sermon on the plain - Lk 6:34-36
3. In His words to one who invited Him into his home - Lk 14:12-14
-- Jesus taught we should be willing to help the poor
B. AS CHARGED BY HIS APOSTLES AND PROPHETS...
1. Paul, in several of his epistles - Ro 12:13; 1 Ti 6:17-19
2. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews - He 13:16
3. James, in describing pure and undefiled religion before God
- Ja 1:27
4. John, in describing the love of God, exemplified by Jesus
- 1 Jn 3:16-19
5. For needy Christians, churches were charged how to provide aid
a. With a weekly collection, as one prospers - 1 Co 16:1-2
b. With thoughtful purpose, and a cheerful heart - 2 Co 9:1,7
6. Yet the local church most not be burdened (for its mission is
spiritual, not social)...
a. Individuals are to fulfill their familial duties - 1 Ti 5:16
b. Individuals have their duty to be a 'good Samaritan' - cf.
-- As we have opportunity, we have the duty to do good unto all
men - Ga 6:10
1. Can we not see why the early Christians were so diligent to help the
a. They were not only obeying the commandments of Jesus and His
b. They were also displaying compassion that has always characterized
the people of God
2. There are certainly good reasons to "remember the poor"...
a. Those who do are blessed by the Lord - Psa 41:1-3
b. God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the
kingdom - Ja 2:5
3. What can we do to remember the poor...?
a. Give liberally to the church, for the benefit of needy Christians
b. Give liberally to charitable organizations, to help others who may
be in need
Let's honor God and glorify Christ by remembering the poor...
"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially
to those who are of the household of faith." - Gal 6:10