July 2003

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The Responsibility of Helping Those in Need

Greetings Brethren:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (1 Peter 2:9–10).

           From the world's point of view anyone who doesn't take part in its numerous customs is a peculiar people indeed. However, the day is fast approaching when this world will not only read James 4:4, they will also understand it. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." They also will want to follow the teachings and examples of God's peculiar people.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:11–14).

           Are we zealous of good works? I cannot help but believe I should have been more zealous in helping those in need. Have you ever felt as I have—a bit of guilt because you didn't contribute enough of your time in helping someone in their time of trouble? Perhaps we could have helped financially but just let a good opportunity slip away. Let us explore what our Heavenly Father thinks of those who neglect the needy and also the automatic blessings that come to those who are zealous in this area of good works. Let us begin in Deuteronomy 15:9–11:

Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

           Some very strong words for failing to render aid in our sixth year, wouldn't you say? But notice what an awesome blessing to those who do give a sixth-year offering for the poor. ". . . because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto."

           If we have one of the unfortunate as an employee we must give him or her their pay daily until they are able to go for a longer period of time.

Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee (Deuteronomy 24:14–15).

           Brethren, if we heed this command with a joyful heart it is the same as if we had made a loan to the Lord.

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again (Proverbs 19:17).

           Making an investment in the poor is 100 percent safe, and what did King David have to say about such an investment for the poor? Not only is it 100 percent safe, the dividends are far more than anything this world has to offer.

           Psalm 41:1–3:

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

           Brethren, do you think this world has entered a time of trouble? Yes indeed, and this is only the beginning. We will surely be asking God to deliver us. Not only will He deliver us, He will preserve and keep us alive.

           Verse 2:

The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.

           We know very well who our enemy is and only God can deliver us from his hateful destructive ways.

           Verse 3:

The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.

           Notice, brethren, what tremendous blessings for such a small investment. This investment in the poor could have a major impact on our healing when we experience a time of sickness. When we ask for healing, will our Heavenly Father check our record to see if we have rightly, with a pure heart, considered the poor? Think about it, brethren. I believe it deserves a good deal of consideration. There is no such investment in this world that can even come close to what God has to offer.

           Not only will investing in the poor bring about greater dividends in this life, but given with a right and pure heart, will pay very handsomely at the resurrection of the just.

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:13–14).

           Remember what Christ told the rich young ruler after he asked what good thing he might do to have eternal life (Matthew 19:16–26, Luke 18:18–27)? Christ replied that he should keep the commandments and started naming each of them, but the young man was so anxious he interrupted to let Christ know he had been keeping the commandments from his youth.

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:16–26).

           Although the young ruler had been keeping the commandments, he learned he was lacking. His wealth and prestigious position meant more to him than anything else. He did not have love, or charity, as the King James Version translates it in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians—known as the love chapter. Let us read verses 1–6:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:1–6).

           Christ tested the rich young ruler when he told him to sell all and distribute to the poor; that was simply too much to ask. His heart was not right with God. He had no love for others.

           However, we must keep in mind that one is not required to give what one does not have. Reading Luke 21:1–4 will help in determining a gift for those in need.

And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had (Luke 21:1–4).

           Christ used this example to teach what it means to give with a right and pure heart. She loved God and His way and was more concerned about others than her own welfare.

           In contrast to this example of a pure heart, the rich young ruler turned down an opportunity to become a disciple and to walk with Christ Himself because he simply could not give up such a lofty position and so much of this world's wealth for such a lowly position as that of a disciple.

           Brethren, this letter is not intended to persuade anyone to give more and more, as we know happened in the past. It is for the purpose of showing the benefits of giving with a right and pure heart. The time and amount of such a gift is left to one's own choosing.

           If you do send a gift to the church emergency fund, be sure to mention that it is for the purpose of helping those in need, otherwise it will be considered first tithe.

Your devoted servant in Christ Jesus,
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John R. Byrd

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