Monday, July 23, 2012

Poverty and Giving...

I just read an article that said poverty in the United States is reaching an all time high since the 1960's. Sometime in the near future, about 16% of Americans will be living at or below the official poverty line. While this number is high and disturbing (especially if you're in that 16%), it is still relatively small in comparison with poverty in other parts of the world such as in developing nations.

These are hard times. We see evidence everywhere we look from more and more people standing on street corners to the legion of foreclosed homes we drive by or see listed in the newspapers. But even those these are hard times, these are also wonderful times for the church and the people of God to step up and care for those in need.

But how do we help in these difficult times? Most of us are feeling the pinch as well due to rising fuel and food costs. There never seems to be enough to go around.

Here are some practical things that you and I can do to help those in need...

1. Plan to give. I encourage first and for most to tithe to your local church that you are involved in. Giving 10% from your first-fruits honors God and blesses you and your family. But above the 10%, I try to set some goals of what we can give as a blessing to others. I won't give any amounts here but it might be that you set a challenge percentage or amount per month to give to those you see in need.

2. Be open handed to the poor. This is very Biblical. True, we can't help everyone. But we can help those we see or come in contact with. Will you be taken advantage of? Maybe. But the rewards of helping far offset the perceived fears of being exploited.

3. Use a "gleanings" mentality (based on Leviticus 19:9-10). I commit to place my pocket change in a container for giving to the World Hunger Fund. I wind up "gleaning" around $20 per month from simple pocket change that I would never miss.

4. Consider giving up something that you won't miss to save money and bless others. A young man I have the pleasure of knowing encourages high school and college students to give up a soft drink each week and use that money to help drill wells in Dar Fur. He calls it "dollar for a drink." Maybe we could give up a meal per week devoting the time in prayer and the resources saved to feed the hungry.

During these hard times, it is hard to set aside funds to help others. But God rewards the generous giver and if we are experiencing hard times, think of those who are living at or below the poverty level.

In 2 Corinthians 8:4, Paul compliments the churches of Macedonia who gave sacrificially out of there poverty and affliction to help others in need. He says that even out of their deep poverty and affliction, "they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints...".

He then goes on to say, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Thought He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Even in hard times, we should be more aware and committed to meeting the needs of others. It honors God, it blesses us (when we bless others) and it demonstrates Christ and leads to opportunity to speak truth into people's lives.

May God bless you as you bless others!

No comments:

Post a Comment