Simple Ways to Help the The Poor – you’d be surprised

Patrick Stewart assures us that choosing not to give is no big deal:

Ignoring the Poor

That video reminds me of a tweet I saw recently: “When Jesus said ‘the poor you will always have with you’ he didn’t mean ‘so ignore them.'”

Are there consequences for Christians who ignore the needs of the poor, who choose not to give? In one sense there is not. After all, the Bible is clear that God will never cast us aside no matter how much we fail to do what’s right.

But in another sense there are grave consequences for those who ignore those in need.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.(Galatians 6:9-10.)

There is nothing remotely legalistic in the Book of Galatians, of course. In fact, Paul’s main theme in writing it was to combat legalism. But he also intended to encourage the people to live lives that glorified God and showed others what the gospel of Christ is about.

So we are told to do good, and that this leads to a harvest. It’s not a harvest for our benefit, but a harvest of people who have seen the love of God at work in us, people who will see what it means to give themselves over completely to God.

The Poor at the Post Office

From my window at work I can see the post office across the street. Most days in front of that post office are one or more people sitting in the shade of a small tree, with a cap on the ground for any spare change and a kind word on their lips for everyone who passes by.

When the weather’s scorching hot, I’ll try to get them some cold bottles of water to stay hydrated. At least, that’s how it started out.

The man who’s there most often is Kevin. We chat a bit usually as I cross the street and pass by on my way to the coffee shop. A couple weeks ago Kevin asked how things were going and I told him it had been a bit rough with my Dad’s heart surgery. He listened with sympathy and asked if there was anything he could do.

Kevin is the one with the cap lying on the sidewalk for loose change, and he was asking me if he could do something for me.

I said yes, he could pray for Dad.

“You got it. Every night.”

A couple weeks later as I passed by I saw two others, Tex and Peggy. Tex is a talker. I don’t think I’d ever heard Peggy say a single word, but her grin (mostly toothless) goes from one ear all the way to the other.

“Where’s Kevin?” I asked.

Tex said Kevin had gone to a nearby church where they sometimes hand out meals. I asked if they expected him back and Tex said he hoped so.

“We don’t have any food at the house.”

I said something – not sure what – and turned to go on to the coffee shop. Then I stopped and took a step back.

“Do you guys want a couple sandwiches?”

“That’d be great,” Tex said. Peggy just grinned and nodded and grinned some more.

The coffee shop has small boxed lunches in the case with the pastries: a sandwich, cookie and bag of ships. That day they had three.

I got my coffee and carried the sandwiches back in a bag. Tex and Peggy were sitting on a low retaining wall around from the front of the post office.

“I think it’s turkey and some other type of sandwich. Did you see Kevin?”

“Yeah. I told him you were getting us sandwiches and he said he hoped you were getting one for him too.”

I took the third lunch to the tree in front of the post office where Kevin sat in his chair, cap on the ground in front of him. He looked up.

“Hey, thanks. They said you were bringing some food.”

I told him I’d see him next time around.

When I look back on those folks, I think about how some people are rich and have the ability to lift others up with their wealth.

Like Kevin. I told him about my Dad and Kevin said he’d pray for him. Kevin lifted me up that day.

It’s funny. You find wealth in the strangest places.


More on the Post Office crowd here: Feeding the Homeless, Three Scones at a Time.

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15 Responses to Simple Ways to Help the The Poor – you’d be surprised

  1. Great story Tim! It is not hard to remember the poor when we remember in one way or another we are all poor. All of us have to have someone initiate the conversation with us that draws us in to eat when we are starving, even when our pride does not want us to accept it and drink pure, even when we would much rather drink polluted. It is only as we accept that we are indeed hungry, thirsty that we can take what is freely given. That is where the mistake lies we never fully realize just how thirsty and hungry we are so it keeps us living off dumpster food and scraps when a buffet awaits.

  2. janehinrichs says:

    Honestly, Tim. I read today because I had to see what Sir Patrick Stewart had to say. I am a fan of his! So glad it was not what it sounded like. Thanks for the story too. God wants us to share whatever we have. Read a verse today in Zechariah 1:15 which says, “but I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry they furthered the disaster.”

    Do we make lives better or worse? Do we share? Thanks for sharing Tim.

    • Tim says:

      “The furthered teh disaster” … I so hope no one sees me make things worse rather than better, Jane, and I also put my hope in God working through me to accomplish it!

  3. janehinrichs says:

    I think I’ll be talking about this too!

  4. Jeannie says:

    I love the Patrick Stewart clip. And I like how you emphasize that sharing with the poor isn’t about legalism, but about glorifying God by loving what He loves — being His hands and feet, I guess. I also really love the story about Kevin: you asked him to pray and he said, “You got it. Every night.” That brings tears to my eyes.

  5. My dad always quotes that Bible verse to make it seem like we should ignore the poor. Then again, my dad doesn’t read the Bible. He picks and chooses what he wants to make himself happy. It drives me crazy when people quote that the poor will always be with us so that we should just accept it and live frivolously in the mean time.

    • Tim says:

      Right, Victoria. People sometimes want to take a single verse that supports their desires and ignore tons of verses that go the other way. Jesus was talking about priorities: focus on God first. The Bible has plenty to say elsewhere about how serving God includes serving the poor as well.

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