How should we help the poor?

How should we help the poor?

The vulnerable and weak have always been God’s priority. The Bible shares God’s clear instructions on helping the poor. Some specific details may not apply to our culture or time period, but the concepts remain the same.

Don’t exploit those in need

  • “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.” – Exodus 22:25
  • “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.” – Exodus 23:6-7
  • “Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.” – Proverbs 22:22-23

Be hospitable and welcoming

  • “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” – Exodus 22:22
  • “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.” – Exodus 22:23
  • “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.” – Exodus 23:9
  • “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.” – Leviticus 25:35-37

Be generous with what you own

  • “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” – Deuteronomy 14: 28-29
  • “But let us stop charging interest!Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.” – Nehemiah 5: 10-11

The instructions to care for the poor continue in the New Testament in Matthew 25:35-36 when Jesus says:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

He continues in Matthew 25:40:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The above verses define key ways to help

  • Meet basic needs (hunger, thirst, clothes, shelter)
  • Show hospitality (welcoming, visiting)
  • Care for and show compassion (taking care of the sick, visiting the prisoner)

It is clear that God calls us to care for the poor in several ways. In loving those in need, we are loving Christ.

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Biblword is a ministry of GlobalRize. Marten Visser is the founding director of GlobalRize. Marten is a pastor from The Netherlands with long years of experience as a missionary in Thailand. We now have around 200 people from all over the world involved in GlobalRize’s ministry. Besides the English page, Biblword also exists in 13 other languages on Facebook.

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