As we kick off Warm Up Winter 2013, we take a look at the reasons why we should give to people in need. Common Good volunteer Roger Wood shares some thoughts on the biblical mandate behind caring for the poor.
As I walked from Rondebosch station I was rejoicing and thanking God for the opportunity to work as a volunteer with Common Good. After 15 months of being unemployed, I felt comforted by the fact that God loved me and had a purpose for me in His mission. My joy quickly turned to irritation as I entered the subway under Campground Road. “Why had someone dumped that pile of rubbish at the far end of the subway?” I thought. But as I approached it I realized that these boxes and rags balanced on empty plastic crates was a bed for three people who were still sound asleep, tightly wrapped in these tatty blankets against the cold. It was the homely touch of the worn out dirty shoes neatly paired together by their bed that really touched me. Even in these conditions there was still a sense of pride and dignity.
As I stood, shocked by the fact that even here in Rondebosch, the poor struggle to live from day to day, it was as if the Lord was saying “Yes, I love you, but remember I died for the whole world. I’ve blessed you with a nice home, good food, a loving wife and so much more. But I still love these who have so little. You need to love them too.”
“But Lord,” I said, as I continued on my journey,“You said the poor will always be with us.”
“Yes, but is that a fact? Or is that a challenge?” He seemed to reply.
My mind raced to think of the many others in our city who do not enjoy all the blessings which I have. What is life like for the thousands who live in rusty corrugated shacks on the fringes of our affluent communities? How do they cope when winter comes, when the ground around their shack is sodden with pools of water and the bedding damp from the holes in the rusted roof?
So what does the Bible have to say about the poor?
In actual fact it says a lot. There are over 2000 verses which refer to the poor and needy directing God’s people to care for them. The Old Testament sets down a model for the Nation of Israel to care for the poor. For example: Deut. 15: 11 instructs that we are to share freely with the poor.
Jesus said “When you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you were doing it for me”. Matt 25: 35 – 40.
The early church even went to the extreme of selling their possessions and sharing with those in need. Acts 2: 45
And where does Warm Up Winter fit?
WUW gives us an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to those in need. Having said that, if we are just giving out of guilt or out of our surplus then that is not an expression of His love. 1 Cor. 13: 3 states “If I give everything I have to the poor and even sacrifice my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” We need to think critically about what we are giving, why we are giving and is this the only time we need to give?
We are blessed to be a blessing to others.
This is the first post in our Warm Up Winter blog series. For more information on Warm Up Winter go to the Common Good website.