Matthew 25:37-40 NKJV "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’"
There are billions of people in our world who live in poverty. Within the United States alone, there are almost 40 million people who live in poverty-stricken communities. Found within these statistics are real people who struggle to make enough money to feed their children. Within these statistics are found real people with broken families. Within these statistics are found a lot of defenseless people who have nobody to help them and champion their cause... and our God says that it is each of our duties as Christ-followers to help them and love them in a self-sacrificial way.
It is very clear that our nation, along with every other nation on Earth faces the problem of injustice and poverty. Consequently, there is a wide range of solutions that people normally suggest: from creating various forms of legislation, to electing governmental officials that will look out for the best interest of the disadvantaged, to even donating to a good charity. However, what if I told you that all of these suggestions, while potentially beneficial, are not the ultimate solution to the problem? You see, today's set of Bible verses, along with countless other verses in Scripture, point us to the true solution for helping the disadvantaged- personal and individual moral responsibility to a Holy God.
Let's see what this principle looks like from a practical level throughout the entirety of Biblical history! In The Old Testament, the Israelites were instructed by God that it was each of their personal responsibilities as members of God's people to take care of the foreigner seeking refuge (Leviticus 19:34), to sustain their fellow countryman who became poor (Leviticus 25:35), to feed and house widows and orphans (Deuteronomy 14:29), and in so doing, taking care of every disadvantaged member of society regardless of the amount of personal effort and sacrifice that it would take to do so. Likewise, in the New Testament, Jesus preached that those who ignored the afflicted and disadvantaged would be cast away by God as though they had ignored Him (Matthew 25:41-46), likewise God said that those that care of the disadvantaged will be rewarded as though they took care of God Himself (Matthew 25:34-40), and the early church took this to heart and put this teaching to practical use by even going as far as happily selling their own belongings in order to provide for those who were in need in such a way that they ate and rejoiced with everyone while "having favor with all the people" (Acts 2:44-47). And this is by no means an exhaustive list- it's just a few examples and snippets from Biblical history.
So what can we get from this? Every single commandment from God that we just looked at was meant to be happily followed by every believer and follower of God as an individual who would be held accountable to performing their duty. Meanwhile, the current problem that we as a society have is this: at some point, we began to delegate what was supposed to be our God-given personal responsibility to take care of our neighbor, and we outsourced it to other people, charitable organizations, and to our various world governments. And if we're honest with ourselves... we did that out of our own personal convenience. The truth is that it is way easier to give what is supposed to be our God-given responsibility to a group detached from us that can do all of the hard work for us. And what's hypocritically ironic is that we then tend to get upset when these outside groups don't do as good of a job at loving and taking care of our neighbor as we'd like for them to do. The truth is... that job was never meant for them. It was meant for you and for every other follower of Christ!
So, in order to apply this to your life practically, ask yourself these questions- When was the last time that you went out of your way to show God's love to someone that was dealt a tough hand in life? When was the last time that you lived out the Gospel by reaching out and helping the people in your community who are in need? When was the last time that you sacrificed your time, money, and convenience for the sake of your neighbor? If you do this regularly... then praise God! Let this be a word of encouragement- you're doing exactly what God wants you to do. However, if you don't do any of these things... it's not too late to start now!
Take some time today to pray and ask God to open your eyes to the suffering and the need in your community. Ask God to help you love your neighbor in such a sacrifical way that you can't help but to reach out to them and help fill their need.