As the holiday festivities wind to an exhausted close; my mind keeps returning to a conversation I heard curbside last week. A young mother had paused to explain to her son why she had dropped a five dollar bill into the big pot beside a bell ringing volunteer.
She told her son that the donated money was used to buy food for the poor people at Christmas time. After a moment of thoughtful contemplation, the little boy quipped, “Won’t they still get hungry after Christmas?”
There’s something about the holidays that moves us to compassion for those who have less than we do. What heart can turn away from the thought that some child will go without toys or an elderly or homeless person goes without food?
Beginning in November, community benevolence programs crank up; the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Samaritan’s Purse and the post office food drive all begin vigorous campaigns. Churches begin to promote getting personally involved by adopting a “needy child from the angel tree” and participating in preparing holiday meals for the elderly.
In three Gospels (Matt. 26, Mark 14 and John 12) Jesus said that the poor are with us always. True, our Lord continued by saying He would not always be with us—but the fact the reference Jesus made to the ever presence of the poor is included in all three Gospels is surely still relevant.
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus clearly states that if we take care of those less fortunate, we take care of Him. Scripture abounds with reference for the necessity of being generous with those around us who are needy. Oddly, there is no Biblical mention of that generosity toward the poor being only on a holiday.
As the time for New Year’s resolutions approaches, I’m adding something important to my list. I’m going to carry my eagerness to “help the needy” into every day of the year. No matter how prosperous our country becomes, there will always be those among us who are in need. Since the poor and the elderly continue to eat after the holidays, shouldn’t my concern and generosity also continue?
One of my New Year’s resolutions could be to contact the local homeless shelter once a month to ask what they need or to check with my elderly neighbors and single parent friends to see if they are cared for. The lonely, poor and discouraged are among us every day.
I should also check with my church to see what needs there are within the body of Christ. People in need don’t just exist outside the church doors, sometimes; they sit quietly on the pew beside me, praying for a miracle.
What better way to show my faith in God and love for his children than by helping the needy, both in church and out—all year long? And what greater opportunity can there be to show Christ through our outreach? A full belly listens better than a hungry belly.
James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Prayer: Father, thank you for my blessings, you are so good to me! Help me to always be aware of those around me in need so that I can share what I have with those less fortunate. Show me opportunity to minister not only to their physical needs, but their need to know you as well. Amen.
Matt. 26:11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
Mark 14:7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
Matthew 25:31-46 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 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, 36 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.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
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.’(K)
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me,(L) you who are cursed, into the eternal fire(M) prepared for the devil and his angels.(N) 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’(O)
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life