"Poor and struggling, how should the Church should respond"

July 1st, 2007

Something I have found that hurts me to my core, is when Christians speak of those who struggle financially or who are outright poor, as somehow having no faith or being cursed by God's law or something of that nature. I do not see Jesus EVER talking like that. I see Him talk about those with wealth needing to give to the poor. He was concerned with the poor, not condemning.

Somehow we seem to have turned the prosperity message into a condemning message to those who struggle. We do the same thing with those who are sick. When Peter and John were entering the gate and the beggar asked for alms, they did not say something like "Just keep your eyes on Jesus" or "If you were faithful, you would not have this problem" and then walk on. No. They stopped, and gave him something to help. They told him in the name of Jesus to rise up and walk, and then gave him a helping hand. He wanted money in order to survive. They gave him a much better answer. He could now go and earn his own keep, rather than just begging for some money for the day, or worse, just giving the crippled beggar some advise that would not help at all. They did not condemn him, or say some catch phrase to get out of the conversation with clearer consciences.

There will always be poor people among us. Some struggle to make ends meet, some are downright poor, while others make it, working hard, and still others have money to spare. This has always been true, and will always be true it seems.

Jesus spoke often of the poor. His compassion was with them. I do not profess to be educated in theological matters as so many are, but my own personal guide for the truth of a situation is to look at Jesus, to listen to His words and watch His actions.

This trend of looking down on those who seem to have constant financial or physical issues with impatience and condescending attitudes is just not the Jesus I know, or would want to know if that were true.

I think that maybe we should resolve ourselves to realizing that there will always be needy among us, and meet their needs. That will also include those who are with us all the time, not just in passing or out on the street. People with a greater provision need to get the heart attitude of gratefulness to God for being able to give over and above their own needs, because it is far more blessed to give than to receive and they are in that position. Why do we lift them up as being more favored of God or something? In order to "acknowledge God in all your ways" give, over and over again to those in need. So what if they never get out of that position? God's forgiveness has no boundaries. His forgiveness is not only if a person becomes perfect and never fails. He is faithful and just to forgive us every day. We can give out of His provision for us to those who do not have enough, all the time, without condemnation, or even a condescending attitude.

Looking upon those among us who make it financially as somehow being more faithful or having more favor does not line up with the evidence all around us. Bill Gates, for example, is not faithful to God, yet he has money to spare. My father once told me, that historically in the church those with the most money are not the best givers. I have heard many other pastors say this same thing. That fact does not show me that those people are more blessed of God, or somehow more faithful in any way at all. The signs do not follow the theory.

The poor and struggling are with us, and will always be. Jesus cared about them passionately. Lets help them, keep helping them, and lets do so without making them feel like second class Christians. That is what the condescending attitude does. Assuming that they are in trouble solely because of a lack of faith, or a lack of discipline, is an assumption I do not see Jesus portraying. And anyway, so WHAT if they have a problem in that area? We all have areas we are weak in. Let the strong in an area help the week in that area, without tearing them down or making them feel bad or beneath others. I have been surprised sometimes when I found out all of the circumstances behind a person whom I may have looked at as being undisciplined or unfaithful, and seen a heart of gold for the Lord, even though they are living in a tough place financially, or physically. In my spirit I have groaned about my attitude towards them, as I realize the position I put myself in in the Lords eyes. Lazarus and the beggar come to mind. The well-off temple givers and the poor widow come to mind. The rich young man who served money come to mind. Job's so called "friends" whom the lord was not pleased with come to mind.

I only have obtained this attitude by being fed it from others. It did not come from the Word of God. The Word can justify any action, belief or stance, if you want it to. That does not make it right.

When we TRULY groan for the lost, the weak, the sick, AND the poor and struggling, then maybe we are finally getting it. Getting the heart of God.


About 'Withstanding The Storm,' "Author Nathan Lambshead reaches out to those who are not being reached in church, using his own experiences and shortcomings to convey the story of God’s grace and mercy. Rather than preaching at the reader, Nathan presents his faith in a testimonial form. Written in a simple, easy-to-read style, Withstanding the Storm will challenge and encourage you to grow and make a consistent commitment to the Lord." You can find the book on The Tate Publishing Site or from Good News Graphics.



Be sure to also check out earlier articles written by Mr. Lambshead. You can also contact him by e-mail.